I'd like to discourse on humour in stories. (Actually, I just want an excuse to show off my new moodtheme, but shh.)
If it's insulting to say I don't find something funny when many people do, then be warned: this will insult you. It all started a while ago, when people were recc'ing a fic. Several were convinced that it was written by sarahtales. I read about the first paragraph, after which it was immediately obvious that, one, it wasn't written by sarahtales and two, I didn't find it funny. Now, I didn't finish that fic - I don't read much HP any more, period - so I'm not judging its merits in the least. It may become hilarious in the second paragraph! I don't know. I'm just using this as a jumping-off point.
It comes down to the difference between 'humour' and 'wit', or at least what those words mean to me. Humour is situation-based. People say and do things that are completely normal for them, and amusing for us: the viewer, the reader, the listener. Wit, on the other hand, is someone who knows they're funny, being funny. Case in point: Juno. Very witty, not very humorous film. Versus Little Miss Sunshine: very humorous film, not one wit in the cast.
sarahtales can pull off witty characters because she is actually funny. (See: book deals, lol.) If you're flagposting a character as 'funny,' they damn well better live up to it. If they don't, it amounts to the same thing as a tell-not-show piece. Tricky. Dangerous. Better, I think, to write the absurd as normal and hope others find it funny.
I can't speak for how my own writing comes across to others. I probably overplay humour sometimes (all of the time?), as everyone does, but I know in theory that a well-placed comma can generate more laughs than the most wonderfully wordily witty metaphor ever invented.
Which brings me to: if people say my writing is funny - and go on to say the same about the writing of someone I don't find funny - does it mean that my writing is not, in fact, funny? If A = B and B = C then A = C, right? Or has my statistics block eaten my brain?
I'll leave you with two examples of writing I recently spit juice over, just so you understand what brings funny back for me.
from How Life Can Be, by sevenfists:
The door to the bus opens, and Andy comes into the lounge. "Two hours until showtime," he says.
"Yeah, I know," Patrick says. "I'll be ready, I just — Pete's trying to get me to write this song about cows."
"The cow song? Don't let him do it," Andy says, opening one of the cabinets and digging through it.
"You knew about this? How come everyone knows about the cow song except me?"
"If by 'everyone' you mean 'me and Pete,' then it's because you aren't part of our exclusive club of two," Andy says. He finds a granola bar and cuts the top off the wrapper. Patrick has never seen Andy rip anything open; he always uses the little scissors on his Swiss Army Knife. It's kind of neurotic.
from The World May Never Know, by skoosiepants:
Brendon still has no idea what he’s even shuffling back and forth between Gabe and Bill. It isn’t like he hasn’t snuck a look at the notes, but he doesn’t know what B44 means, or F13, or Sink this, or Eat my submarine and die, bitch. It’s gotta be code. Evil Gabe and Bill code.