"Humor Your Readers: The Uses of Wit" Authored by: EEI Press Editors Presented by: Colin Won
Main Themes The article covers two basic points about humor in writing. 1. How it should be used “Lightening up your copy” 2. How it should not be used “Nobody likes a comedian who’s a bully”
How humor should be used? Four key methods: • “Illustrate serious points in a nondidactic way” • “Vary the routine” • “Take the sting out of criticism” • “Keep the word count down”
Serious Points Just as long as the overall tone is kept appropriate, the occasional humorous insert may be welcomed. Warning: This routine should not be used in very formal situations such as funerals.
Varying Routine Commonplace or obvious ideas could be related with just to make the idea more complete. “A rueful correspondent penned a requiem for a button, bemoaning the expiration of one on a favorite shirt that “had served with high distinction under the stresses of war, sport, bad laundry machines and a tough economy.”
Criticism Humor can be used to minimize embarrassment or the harshness in certain statements, especially they are uncomplimentary. “However, for PC users who are abstaining from Windows, for whom DOS is a kind of purgatory (by preference or by limited purchasing power), PC Study Bible offers a lot of power…”
Word Count • Humor can present ideas or arguments in less words. • Having wit in your writing could bring your premise into the conclusion faster. “I am waiting for the golden-eared interconnect worshippers to tell me that I should use only electricity imported from Washington state, generated by water power, rather than unclean coal-generated electricity from here in Ohio.”
How humor should not be used? Three key warnings: • “Relevance” • “Taste” • “Offensiveness”
Relevance The writing should be consistent with its purpose and not digress too much. • Keep the humor relevant to the subject you’re writing about • Keep the humor relevant to the purpose of your writing
Taboo forms of writing should be avoided. This includes: Vulgar statements Off-color humor Inappropriate situations often involving suffering or loss Taste
Offensiveness Humor should not be used to belittle someone. • Do not be snide • Do not be condescending of others • Do not be mean-spirited
Conclusion Humor is an important tool. It keeps users interested with the writing even if the topic is truly bland and boring. However, there are appropriate and inappropriate moments to use humor. Writers must take care to use it wisely at the risk of losing an audience as well as gaining a bad reputation.