T. Coraghessan Boyle, On Comedy in Fiction
00:08 [T. Coraghessan Boyle] Well, I work with many types of comedy, and I consciously work with them. I think for my purposes now, for my books anyway, I'm trying to work toward the kind of comedy I first discovered in Flannery O'Connor in her story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," which still remains, I think, my favorite story ever.
00:30 It's a story that is very funny, and you are on conventional comic ground. You know everything's going to be okay, nothing bad can happen, it's comedy. And she turns the tables on you at the end, and it's gripping, gruesome, moving, passionate, and hilarious. There are many types of comedy. As you said earlier, I'm not afraid to use the fart joke -- why not? I'm not afraid to use slapstick. But there are puns, there's verbal comedy, there's comedy in the vocabulary
01:00 I use, even. People always say, you have all these bizarre, archaic words you're using. I'm using them for fun, primarily. I'm not using them to show off, I'm using them because it's part of our language. We have the fattest dictionary of any other language because we've made use of French, German, Indo-European and all these languages, are part of our language, so why not use every tool in your arsenal? But I usually use unusual words in order to make a
01:30 joke, you know? You ask the hostess at the party, "Where does one micturate?" And she says, "What?" And you say, "Piss. Where do you piss here?" So there are many types of humor that I use. What is funny? Whatever is making me laugh on the page, I presume is going to be funny to somebody, especially if they had the same kind of twisted childhood that I did. But again, you can't worry about the audience beyond -- well,
02:00 you can't worry about the audience in terms of what your vision is or what you're trying to produce. Obviously any artist needs to be able to communicate with an audience, but that's something else altogether. But as far as any idea of pulling back or censoring what you're doing because it might be too outrageous, maybe it is. But why stop if you think it can be effective? If 90% of writing is tapping the unconscious
02:30 and letting it flow, then 10% is sitting on top of it, making it credible or making it something the audience can relate to, putting it in a form that they can relate to.