How to be funny: According to Bill Abbott

I know most of you have seen Bill's comics and have gotten a good chuckle out of them. If you are like me, you find humor can be difficult when it comes to creating greeting cards. I asked Bill if he would mind writing an article on humor and tell us how he approaches it. He was kind enough to contribute the following tips on how to be funny. To see more of his work, visit his website . -Kate


Writing humor, for me, is an absolute joy. To think that people pay me to think up funny stuff, then draw the scenario using my goofy-looking characters, never ceases to bring up a sense of extreme gratitude. I’ve been asked about the broad perspective and process of developing visual humor, so here goes.

First, there is no shortage of inspiration. Every day slices of life, when viewed from the right perspective, provide lots of potential nuggets of humor. Take your average husband and wife and the things we all experience in the course of time. Perhaps the thoughts that goes through a bride or groom’s mind just before committing to a lifelong partnership. Using this as a starting point, I came up with a couple standing at the altar, the groom asking nervously, “For better or worse? How much worse?” – a reasonable question when you think about it.

For those of us with children, the well of humor is positively bottomless. When my youngest son was in the midst of potty training, an event occurred that I have yet to capture in a cartoon – primarily because he may not wish to have it widely known once he’s old enough to begin dating. But it’s lurking in the back of my mind. As my little boy demonstrated some level of ability in using the bathroom, I would close the door to give him some privacy while I stood just outside. If the process took overly long, I would develop varying degrees of concern.

On this one particular day, based on the length of his bathroom visit, and on sounds that you don’t normally associate with such a visit, I became greatly concerned. Upon opening the door, I found my son standing facing the toilet, with his little hands on the edges of the bowl for support. I would describe his expression, but it was not visible to me. You see, he was dipping the top of his head into the toilet as though he was washing his hair. Upon hearing my gasp of concern, his head snapped up, flinging water onto the wall behind him, and setting his hair into a shark fin-like blade atop his head, wearing an expression of, “Is this bad?” on his little face. That moment will be forever transfixed in my memory. Yes, the well of humor runs deep indeed with children.

There are innumerable situations in the work place that, when you think about it, provide fertile ground for humor. I’ll bet that the policy manual for nearly any corporate entity in the United States and abroad could leave one in stitches when read objectively. And how about some of the topics covered in your typical corporate training programs? Fertile ground indeed.

In nearly any facet of modern life, whether it’s school, work, home, or the newspaper, there is a veritable cornucopia of humorous topics and events. How about politicians? Listen to them speak for just a little while, and you’ll come to appreciate how much humor they can pack into each and every sentence – not that that is their intention mind you. Even your typical news channel is chock full of funny events that the best humor writers in the world couldn’t come up with – ever watch Cops?

Whether you write, draw, or speak humor, you need only look around you for an abundance of possibilities. It’s not the event itself that needs to be funny – just the perspective from which you view it. Therein lies the secret.


Bill lives in beautiful western New York with his wife and two sons. He has served over eighteen years in the U.S. military, including service in Iraq, and other places. His art has appeared in Reader's Digest, in Mead Westvaco and American Greetings calendars, in greeting cards, books, magazines and a long, long list of other products and publications worldwide. Bill's cartoons have been licensed to numerous companies to produce everything from figurines, greeting cards, cocktail napkins - you name it.

WEBSITE: http://billabbott.weebly.com/index.html

BLOG: http://billabbottcartoons.com/



adan said...

finally got to read this (had saved it for weeks!) - well worth it ;-) thanks!

LeahG Cartoonist said...

Awesome read Bill :) Our Simon is promoting your books on the cartoonist-forum. I hope you reap the rewards, well worth it!!