Why it’s good to laugh

The books that I’ve written have all been comic novels, with the aim of making the reader laugh, and I often wonder why I’ve chosen to write funny, rather than serious.

When I was growing up, my dad always told very funny stories, so maybe that has something to do with it. He could keep a whole roomful of people entertained all evening. Also we watched a LOT of comedy on TV, and I loved to see my parents laughing when they’d come home tired after long days at work.

Life is wonderful, but it is sometimes tough. There is no getting around it. There is occasionally very bad news on TV, and rubbish things happen to the best people. There are rainy days, like yesterday when it feels like someone is throwing buckets of water over you. If, in the midst of the difficult times, if you can have a good old laugh, or at least raise a smile, then it’s a small victory.

I used to work for a charity called ‘SeeSaw’ which gives grief support to young people who have had a parent or brother and sister die. Now that’s serious stuff. But the wonderful children and young people knew something important, that life is for living and it’s important to carry on having fun. Working there inspired me to write ‘Diary of a Parent Trainer’ about a girls whose dad died four years earlier but who now has to learn to adjust to another change. The book may be dealing with a serious issue, coping with change, but I’m pleased to report that one reviewer said that she laughed so hard something came out of her nose. Job done!

‘My Big Fat Teen Crisis’ had two issues, one was self image and the other was cyber bullying. But again I wrote it as a comic novel. I wanted to show that anybody can get bullied online, even the most likeable person like the central character Sam. Despite making a lot of mistakes, (for example pretending to be a vegetarian to impress a boy or writing a list of her good and bad points, but not destroying it immediately) she got through thanks to her sense of humour.

Some people think of humorous fiction as lightweight, and of comedians as silly, court jester types. But I think they have got it very wrong. The brilliant Swiss psychiatrist  Carl Jung once said that he thought that the only divine quality possessed by humans was humour. It is humour that keeps us sane, that allows us to let off steam and rise above difficulty. The best comedians use humour to expose hypocrisy, or pride or simply to share the great big cosmic joke: life is ridiculous, and so are we. We are all in the same boat, so we might as well laugh about it.

The best gift we can give each other is a reason to smile. Here’s to laughter, even on rainy days.


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