Dark Humor with Immortals

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Okay, the quote isn’t very funny, but you can’t find much that deals with humor being based around immortality.  At best, you get jokes and running gags with the characters dying repeatedly in increasingly bizarre ways . . . Wait . . . I know of something:

He’s not technically immortal since it’s a time loop episode, but you can see how humor can be used.  Now, this becomes important to me because I tend to add some level of comedy to my stories.  Sight gags, puns, and banter always manage to slip into my writing and War of Nytefall is no exception.  Yet, it’s not the easiest thing to put human senses of humor on vampires.  They’re monsters that live for centuries, which means they can become fairly serious or adopt their own taste of comedy.  This could be overthinking though since they’re still individuals.  Everyone has loves and hates when it comes to styles of humor.

First, I learned from the early readers that the jokes don’t always carry over.  I’ve tried a bit more with the puns and sarcasm, which occasionally fell flat.  Especially with the chummy Vengeance Hounds.  I’ve tried my best to redo them, but I did realize that there was always a violent undertone.  For example, joking around about massive injuries that they had endured in the past.  With enough blood and time, they can regrow limbs or even reattach them if they can hold onto them.  So, the loss of a limb is almost the equivalent of us seeing a human bonk their head on a low ceiling.  It was a weird jump to make in terms of things the characters find funny.

In terms of humor for the reader, I came to the same conclusion along with another subject.  The violence aspect came from vampires doing things that resulted in injury by accident with no real care.  The best example is something with Mab and Clyde that would kill a human, but they kind of casually rolled their eyes at.  Don’t really want to spoil this one, so I shouldn’t use it as an example.  Anyway, we kind of chuckle at shows where a character to something stupid and gets smacked upside the head.  With the Windemere vampires, that wouldn’t be enough, so it’s more dismemberment or other things that they can shrug off as easily as we would a small headache.

The other subject is how the older they get, the less the vampires understand the new world.  Clyde and Gregorio are the main targets of this.  For Clyde, he’s been buried for 50 years and the world physically changed on him.  So, he doesn’t always understand what’s going on.  He counters this by listening to the others and following their lead, which minimizes the comedy.  At the very least, it makes room for his arrogant snark and violent dispatches.  Gregorio is simply ancient and has isolated himself, so his manners are also at a loss.  You know how senior citizens sometimes lose their tact when speaking their mind and are brutally honest?  Imagine a person who has been around for a few centuries and start doing this.  I might have toned it down a bit, but I might up it in future volumes.

Only piece of advise I can really put here is to make sure the humor fits the mood of the overall story.  Going full wacky in a serious, action adventure will make it more cartoonish and you can’t really come back from that.  Dark humor and sarcasm can work without risking the more serious tone.  So, you really need to find that balance and brace yourself for the possibility of jokes falling flat.  An immortal character does give you some flexibility, but the core of timing and delivery are still there.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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20 Responses to Dark Humor with Immortals

  1. Humor is the hardest thing, isn’t it? Especially if you hope to make it as universal as possible. Perhaps because, by its very nature, it requires a fall guy (or girl) and it’s a matter of personal sensitivity whether you find that offensive or funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    Humor is tough. I agree that it needs to fit the mood so as not to be seen as bathos.


  3. You are one of the best in using humor at the right time and right context.


  4. Humor can be tough. My newest has many of your tips in it. The hat was locked in a box for twenty years. He’s a little out of touch with technology. That might not apply in a fantasy setting, but it made for some fun moments.


  5. Very interesting insights, I hadn’t thought about any of those points. I can see where dealing with nearly immortal characters would make humor a lot harder to add.


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