Before we dive into the purpose and importance of humor in literary works, let’s get familiar with the subject; humor.

In literature/writing, humor is a literary tool that evokes a feeling of amusement, oftentimes laughter and induces amusement.

A humorist therefore is someone who acts, speaks or writes in an amusing way.

It is more than entertainment or joke-telling but a powerful social lubricant that eases and enriches communication, interpersonal relations and can also be used as a method of educating the reader.

Now, why is this needed in your literary works? And why do we think writers should include humor in their writings?

It Encourages Reader’s Engagement

When reading poems or books, readers easily get bored and blaséd because of the intensity of the work they are reading. A lot of times, writers just keep on going non-stop with their serious and intense works.

Including some sort of light-reliefs in writings every now and then would keep your readers engaged with their reading materials.

It makes the characters realer

Characters are involved and more realistic when humor is used especially in difficult and serious situations.

It helps the reader connect more with these fictional being and gives a better understanding to what message the writer is trying to pass across.

After all, doesn’t every rainy day come with its own silver lining?

No matter how hard it gets, we all always find a way to smile. Even if it is feigned.

It Eases Discussing Uneasy topics

Tragic topics such as death, relationship breakdown, illness and sexuality can be written in such a way the reader will find more acceptable and relaxed with.

Instead of grieving endlessly during the loss of a loved one, a character can prop up a funny thing the late person (when alive) did/does.

It would not only make everyone laugh and feel relaxed but it also will bring back some great reminiscence.

Humor Helps Make Literary Works Memorable

We often remember books, poems because of the memorable lines they use, sometimes the parting lines.

One notable saying from a movie is “l will be back” by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.
If that same line is used in different movie, a lot of people would definitely remember The Terminator movie and laugh about it.

Some Humor Elements to Work With

We shall release a more detailed blog post on humor elements soon, do watch out for that.

1. Pun

This is a ‘play on word’.
It is also known as ‘paronomasia’, the literal meaning of which is to call a different name.

Puns rely on some types of words to work.
Words that are similar in sound, spelling or meaning get played on a lot of times.
E.g such as homonyms, homophones.

Examples of pun statements

  • Statements with a lot of debit always put me at a ‘weak-end’. (Weekend)
  • He tells me daily of how he ‘eights’ reading but loves reading. (Hate)

2. Satire

A literary tool that ridicules society, governing power or anything through witty and funny methods.

Satirical books 

3. Sarcasm
4. Malapropism
5. Rhetoric
6. Hyperbole


Our after-thoughts on punning when writing.

Note: Humor doesn’t need to be spoken; it can also be physical or implied perhaps ‘a very serious character steps into a pothole while chasing someone.’

 When you use this device in your write ups be it irony, satire, sarcasm, hyperbole it makes the reader feel happier and more connected to you and your writing. 

Also, it makes the world more endurable to live in with all that seriousness reduced.

So, the next time you sit down to write a fictional (real-life) story, poem or a script, remember to spice it up with some humor, who knows, you could change a sad life to a happy one – even if just for the while they read your work.

This article was contributed to the blog by Cecilia Okpako

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