This month I'd like
to introduce you to Rene Gutteridge. Her talent, as an author, is
laughter! Rene, the
stage is all yours!
I figured when I started
writing comedy, it would be a bad idea. I mean, nothing can crash quite
as badly and with as many fiery explosions as comedy. If people don’t
like it, they don’t just set the book down and move on. It’s like
they’ve been personally insulted and their sites are set on whoever
came up with all that stupidity that they’ve had to wade through.
But I did it anyway because I’ve
never had a whole lot of common sense when it came to writing. To my
surprise, people liked it. Not only did they like it, but they wanted
Until I started writing comedy,
I didn’t understand how much I needed it. Seeking out comedy was sort
of a subconscious act of therapy that I couldn’t fully explain. I knew
I liked the show Frasier, but I couldn’t understand
why I needed it and why it was so important for me
to watch Niles stumble through romance and Frasier to be misunderstood
and their father to watch it all, fully perplexed by the two people he
loved most in the world.
I hear from readers all the time
who are so thankful to have laughed out loud, some of whom admit it has
been a long time since that has happened. And as strange as it sounds,
I believe it is no coincidence that I happen to always be in the middle
of a comedy project when my life begins unraveling into one crisis
It is often only through sadness
that we discover the nature by which we struggle to survive, and the
small, nearly invisible things we do to try to keep our heads above
water in this nasty pool of unending trouble.
It is indeed the mirror of
comedy that allows us to laugh at ourselves, accept our foibles, and
often times understand our vast weaknesses in a way that nobody else
Sure, drama has its tears and
suspense has its heart-stopping scenes, but comedy has guts. What other
genre sticks a finger to your chest, laughs at you, and then asks if we
can be friends?
We need comedy not only to keep
us humble, but also to keep us enlightened. My favorite journalistic
writer, Joel Stein, can pick any topic to write about, and after
reading his articles, I’ve somehow seen myself. After all, I can’t
really laugh unless I secretly know that I’m one half-step away from
being the very freak that I’m laughing at.
What makes Michael Scott from
the hit TV show The Office so intriguing is that we
can see ourselves in this guy. Yeah, maybe we’ve never said what he’s
said, but we’ve thought it. That guy’s like a bad traffic accident that
you can’t help staring at as you drive by. You think, Wow, a
few more seconds and that could’ve been me.
And that’s how comedy, if it
ever can find itself humble, serves the greater good. It’s like a
warning sign wrapped up with punchy lines, irony, satire, and lots of
well-intentioned exaggeration. Sometimes when I write a particularly
painful scene, I think to myself that really, I could go either way
here...either cry or laugh. And that’s where comedy strikes at the
heart the best. It hits you hard, but then it elbows you in the ribs
and tells you not to be so hard on yourself, that you’re not the
weirdest person who ever lived.
Comedy in literature is often
seen as the crazy uncle that is “accidentally” left out of all the
holiday pictures. But come on, without him, holidays wouldn’t be nearly
as fun. There’d be no stories to tell year after year. And though
nobody will admit it, everyone analyzes the guy to see what exactly
went wrong with him so we don’t make the same mistake.
I believe comedy is rich with
insight that is hard to match elsewhere. Comedy is brilliant because it
is reflective: it is turned on us so that we learn about ourselves, but
we’re not devastated by what we know to be awful and true. Through
comedy, we can, in fact, look ourselves in the eye, nod in agreement,
and find a healthy way to tackle what needs to be adjusted in our
lives—all the while having a heck of a good time. It’s like the buzz of
alcohol without the fear of liver damage.
And comedy can make its mark in
any genre. Who isn’t thankful for a small bit of laughter in the midst
of a hardcore, gut-wrenching tale? I’ll never forget watching The
Passion of the Christ. The intensity of the motion picture
left me gripping the arm rests of the chair and wishing I’d gone to see
something featuring Ben Stiller. Then came the scene where Jesus is
making a table with legs and chairs. His mother gives him an odd look
and Jesus muses that he might be ahead of his time. That single scene
probably kept me from passing out from holding my breath.
So laugh, dear readers! Scoff at
those who believe there is hardly a Christian to be found with any sort
of sense of humor. Because here’s the secret we all know . . . it is
only by the grace of God that we’re able to do anything of
significance. Left to our own devices and, well, we’re a comedy waiting
to be written.