The Tricky Question of Funny – 2013 365 Challenge #9

From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Claire is P.O.S.H. (that won't mean anything if you haven't seen the movie!)

From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Claire is P.O.S.H. (that won’t mean anything if you haven’t seen the movie!)

I’m struggling with writing Funny. I want Claire to be one of those characters you come across in the best funny novels, by the likes of Wendy Holden, who make you laugh out loud (either with them or at them).

Right now Claire feels a bit morbid. Her life is shallow and she has no real friends. This is important for her character development. But I can’t see how to inject humour without humiliating her and I don’t want her to be clumsy or stupid otherwise it will be harder for her character to develop. She’s more wrapped up in work and taking it too seriously than genuinely vapid (I love that word – it’s one of my husband’s favourite insults.)

My research is clearly going to need to develop beyond hostels, bars and motorway routes, to include How to Write Funny (suggestions always gratefully received). A quick Google search turned up this interesting article so I’m sure some proper time spent on it will help me no end.

Anyway, here is installment #9. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend a bit more time on the next one, once the children are back at nursery (they’re currently asleep on the sofa, having drifted off watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ve turned over to Antiques Roadtrip, as I’ve seen the Chitty movie about thirty times since Father Christmas gave it to my son…)


Claire drew a flat-pack box from the pile and pushed it into shape, splaying her fingers so the corrugated cardboard wouldn’t scratch her nail varnish. The storage people were due in the morning and so far she’d only just made a start packing up the lounge. Looking around Claire realised it wasn’t going to take long. She rarely spent time by herself and therefore had no need for DVDs or novels. The few books she owned were mostly business ones given to her by Carl. Who Moved My Cheese sat alongside The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. She had often wondered what Carl’s motivation was in leaving the books on her desk.

Was he being a good boss helping me climb the ladder to the Board, or hoping I would take the hint that I’m not Director material?

Two weeks ago she would have asserted it was the former; now she wasn’t so sure. The look of glee on Carl’s face when Mike from Accounts had lunged in for a snog was etched deep in Claire’s memory. It had been like watching a pet cat morph into a tiger.

Claire filled the box with unread books and unopened CDs – Christmas gifts from her siblings – and closed the lid. She wrote “Charity Shop” on the side in marker pen, then straightened up and went to get a glass of wine from the fridge.

The kitchen isn’t going to take long to pack up either, I barely come in here. The fridge contained a tub of humus, some wilted celery, and a bottle of champagne that Michael had left behind. Claire knew without looking that there wasn’t much else in the cupboards. She generally ate at the office or picked up takeaway noodles on the way home. Cooking for one wasn’t worth the washing up.

The champagne cork popped loudly in the empty apartment and Claire angled the frothing liquid towards a waiting flute. She felt something ping inside her chest as she opened the Veuve Clicquot: the emotional equivalent of her bra-strap snapping, freeing a tension she hadn’t noticed was there.

Damn you Michael, she thought as the cool fizzy liquid trickled down her throat. If nothing else, you had great taste in Champagne.

Claire carried her glass through to the bedroom and slid open the mirrored door of the built-in wardrobe. A complex pattern of hangers, drawers and shelves confronted her. Three perfect rows of stiletto heels took pride of place in the centre, surrounded by neatly folded cashmere sweaters and impeccably pressed shirts and skirts. Claire knew every item intimately, as if surveying a room of close friends.

She ran through the contents of the closet in her mind, trying to imagine which items might suit slumming-it in hostels. Steve had joked that she’d be better off binning the lot and buying some jeans and tops from Tesco. Claire thought she’d rather skin herself alive.

Selecting her cheapest things – her black GAP jeans, a few M&S jumpers and a pile of pressed Ralph Lauren tops and shirts – Claire began folding the remaining items before packing them into her Louis Vuitton luggage. When the wardrobe was empty Claire carefully placed the bags into boxes and labelled them “Storage”.

By the time the champagne bottle was empty, Claire’s life had been piled into half a dozen brown boxes. Her new rucksack was loaded with all the things she deemed necessary for a year on the road. She frowned at the red and grey bag as it lolled by the front door next to her one pair of flat shoes.

Don’t get comfortable. You and I are not friends. In a month my LV bags and I will be on a plane to the Maldives and you will be in a wheelie bin.

Then she collapsed onto the bed without undressing and closed her eyes.


Related Articles:

The Secret of Writing Funny  (

Humor Writing (