Author Guest Post
Getting Serious About Humor: Why We Don’t All Laugh at the Same Things
A book categorized as a “humorous mystery” can be considered hilarious by one reader and totally off the mark by another. It may be the quality of the writing, but it may also be due to what we as readers bring to the experience when we sit down with a book. For example, how our brains are wired may influence how we respond to an author’s attempt to make us laugh or smile.
Pop psychology has oversimplified the brain dominance profile assessment by only acknowledging two categories – left and right. But Ned Hermann, researcher and author on creativity, developed a more comprehensive system for measuring thinking preferences. His approach divides the brain into four quadrants: upper left or analytic, lower left or detailed/sequential, upper right – intuitive/visual, and lower right – feeling based/interpersonal. Furthermore, he found that only 7 percent of the population has a single quadrant dominance. Most of us have two or three dominant quadrants, with one frequently being slightly more dominant than the other(s).
I can best illustrate these dominance differences as they relate to humor through comic strip preferences. You may be responding from more than one quadrant, so think of your absolute favorites from the following:
- Far Side, Peanuts, Dilbert, Cathy – upper left
- Crankshaft, Beetle Baily, Garfield, Heathcliff – lower left
- Non-Sequitur, Calvin & Hobbs, Bloom County, Pearls before Swine – upper right
- Baby Blues, Luann, For Better or For Worse, Sally Forth – lower right
All of the above are popular comic strips, but most of us have ones we like the best, and they tend to correlate with our brain dominance profile. I suggest that the same holds true for which humorous mysteries we are drawn to. It just may be the reader and not the author who is, at least in part, responsible for what tickles a reader’s funny bone.
Looked at from another perspective, perhaps you can recall a time when you tried to share something funny that put you in stitches but only received a polite “ha, ha” from an otherwise good friend. You may have covered the awkwardness of the moment with the lame comment: “Well, I guess you had to be there.” Maybe not, maybe they just needed to use a different quadrant of their brain.
There are other reasons we don’t all laugh at the same things, including cultural differences, personality, and the influence of peers. Still, laughter is universal. From the belly-laugh to the guffaw, to the chuckle to the nuanced smile – we may not find the same things humorous, but we all laugh at something. (I am currently working on a way to classify humorous mysteries to help readers identify the authors whose humor they will enjoy the most and to help authors gain perspective and do better audience outreach.)
The bottom line is that as the writer of what I refer to as “lighthearted mysteries,” I want readers to find my books amusing. I accept that not everyone will laugh out loud while reading what I’ve written, but I invite you to give me a chance to see if I can at least make you smile. It will depend on your brain dominance profile, of course.
So what is an unemployed widow with a PhD in literature to do when she needs money? Find a job at Pennywise Investigations, a mall detective agency where experience is not required. However, when her first case takes her to a survivalist encampment, Cameron realizes that Survival Can Be Deadly.
This book is so funny, it reminds me of the early Stephanie Plum mysteries, but not as wacky. The mystery was well-paced. The characters had engaging backstories and acted genuine. Overall, a great humorous cozy mystery that I highly recommend. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Book Tours for a copy in return for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a copy of the book!
About the Book
Survival Can Be Deadly: A Discount Detective Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Walrus Publishing (September 10, 2019)
An imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group
Paperback: 308 pages
Digital ASIN: B07Q8TKP7T
When single mom and recent widow Cameron Chandler takes a much-needed job at Penny-wise Investigations, a detective agency conveniently located in a suburban shopping mall, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Her first case is to locate a runaway girl, something her predecessor had been pursuing before he disappeared. Following in his footsteps, the trail leads to a survivalist camp on a remote island in northern Puget Sound. Armed with only a Swiss Army Knife and her quirky on-the-job training as a suburban sleuth, Cameron uncovers more than she bargained for. She soon finds herself in a fight for her own survival in this lighthearted mystery set in Seattle and the San Juan Islands to the north.
About Charlotte Stuart
In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart, PhD, has taught college courses in communication, gone commercial fishing in Alaska, and was the VP of HR and Training for a large credit union. Her current passion is for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching herons, eagles, seals and other sea life from her Vashon Island home office.
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