Thursday, April 2, 2009


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.

Jeff CohenIt 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 FrankensteinYOUNG 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...

Towering InfernoThe Towering Inferno.

I'm asking you. Is comedy taken (you should pardon the expression) seriously?

What's bugging YOU today?
Night at the operationJeff 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).


  1. There isn't nearly enough humor in books and movies these days. And you're right about how it looks easy but it isn't. I have to have humor to escape all the seriousness in life.
    It's really true that "laughter doth good like a medicine" and science has even proven it.
    Good blog!
    Glenda---from cozy armchair group

  2. It is obvious that Jeff takes humor, ah um, seriously. Valid points Jeff. How often it is that things seem easy that aren't.

    Perhaps that is the mark of true skill, making it seem "smooth and easy" for the reader.

    Thanks for the insight and keep the humor coming!

  3. And I am taking this pet peeve straight to my editor (not really, says Leann, who's hands are suddenly trembling) because in one of her emails lately she said as sort of an afterthought ... "Oh, and make this book funnier." Yes. Sure. And I will also make myself at least ten years younger ... and of course richer ... and ... oh hell, you get the picture.

  4. To me, comedy is as essential as oxygen. Without it, we'd have to consider nothing but the serious aspects of life, and who needs THAT?

  5. Well said. As if turning up your jacket collar against the cold, downing a shot of whiskey, and giving the Mona Lisa a slap across the face was somehow more serious than what Lisa Lutz or other comic writers do.

  6. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  7. Hi, Ann, thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll become a regular reader!