Please welcome (humorous) mystery author Jeff Cohen, who writes the Double Feature Mysteries--as he makes a follow-up appearance here on Dazed and Confused.
It irks me that funny mystery novels (pardon me, "humorous cozies," but that's another pet peeve all by itself) are treated so shabbily by the mystery community and publishing overall. I'll tell ya, we don't get no respect. No respect at all.
Because comedy is supposed to seem effortless, people assume it doesn't require much work. They think writing a funny story that still makes sense and has characters readers might like is easy. Personally, I think they should try it sometime. When Lisa Lutz's "Curse of the Spellmans" made the short list for the Edgar Award this year, you'd have thought that someone threw a coconut cream pie in the face of the Mona Lisa. Blasphemy! Sacrilege! I say, I hope it wins, because it's a hell of a lot harder to write a funny story than a serious one.
Why? Because the payoff is so much more obvious. If I were to write a (god forbid) serious novel, it could be mediocre, and as long as I spelled all the words right and didn't end too many sentences with prepositions, it might be reviewed as a "noble failure" or a "worthy effort." If a funny book doesn't make you laugh, at best it's "a failure," and more likely, "an unfunny bore" or "a disaster." Because comedy either works or it doesn't. There aren't degrees of success.
In 1974, Mel Brooks made both BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, two comedies still watched and considered hilarious by more than 12 people. The Best Picture Oscar went to THE GODFATHER PART II (a sequel!). Okay. That's considered a great movie. I can understand that. But neither Brooks film was even nominated for Best Picture. The other nods went to : Chinatown (no argument), Lenny (nice performance, but who watches that movie today?), The Conversation (a nice LITTLE movie) and... wait for it...
I'm asking you. Is comedy taken (you should pardon the expression) seriously?
What's bugging YOU today?
Jeff Cohen is author of the Double Feature Mystery series. His current book, A Night At The Operation, is third in the series and available in mere hours (April 7th). Check out Jeff's website. Jeff also blogs on Mondays at Hey,There's A Dead Guy In The Living Room (Mystery Publishing from Idea to Bookshelf).