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Monday, March 26, 2012

Lessons in Storytelling—“This is my partner Ghee Buttersnaps”


This is possibly my favorite quote from Psych, but it is SO hard to pick!

Shawn Spencer: If we end up catching the Devil, and he starts acting all... devil-y, I know what to do. First I'll buy a fiddle. Play a quick tune, so he underestimates my abilities. Then I'll challenge him to a wager. If he wins, he gets my soul. I win, we get his cooperation—

I love Psych! It is my 12 year old son’s favorite show. If you have never seen it…shame on you. If you have then you know how deliciously funny it is.

I was thinking about all the ways they add humor to the show and how writers could use the same principles to “funny up” their stories and today’s post was born…
 
Lessons on adding humor to your story complements of Psych

Have a “strait” character—(obviously not “not gay”… you know what I mean :) A funny character needs a strait character. You need someone serious to bounce all that crazy off of. Example:

Burton 'Gus' Guster: Great. Now you've gotten me kicked out of a funeral. Just add it to the list. Kicked out of Petsmart, kicked out of Santa's Village, kicked out of the Salvation Army... 
Shawn Spencer: Dishonorably discharged!

Trifle with words—My hubby always tells my kids not to do this! LOL :) Jane Austen uses this technique a lot and it still works today. Find something funny in a word and use it. Example:

Juliet O'Hara: Detective Lassiter is literally on fire today. 
Shawn Spencer: "Literally on fire" as in Michael Jackson in the Pepsi commercial, or as in a misuse of the word "literally?"

Character chemistry—Shawn and Gus can banter with the best of them. You can really get a sense of their relationship. This works amazingly well in stories: Example:

Shawn Spencer: Life insurance policy? 
Burton 'Gus' Guster: It doesn't make any sense. 
Shawn Spencer: Tell me about it... Dude, seriously, tell me about it. I have no idea what this means. 
Burton 'Gus' Guster: You never could understand legalese. 
Shawn Spencer: Oh, really? Remind me who it was who set up our Psych 401ks? 
Burton 'Gus' Guster: Oh, you mean our 601ks? Because India doesn't have 401ks. 
Shawn Spencer: It's a growth economy, Gus. We've already made like, 500 rupee. 
Burton 'Gus' Guster: That's thirteen dollars.

Mocking—Who doesn’t love a little well placed mockery? It always comes off best when the person doesn’t realize they are being mocked: Examples:

Juliet O'Hara: I had no idea you were so serious about bowling. 
Shawn Spencer: Quite serious, quite serious. Matter of fact, Lego wants to sponsor me this year. 
Juliet O'Hara: Oh, that's great. 
Shawn Spencer: They also want me to wear shoes made out of Legos... So I'm torn...

Shawn Spencer: Good morning detectives, collecting money for the Policeman's ball? 
Carlton Lassiter: We don't have balls. 
Shawn Spencer: I honestly have no response to that.

Funny nicknames—This won’t work for all story types or characters, but it is a fun way to add quirks. This is one of my favorite reoccurring parts of the show—when Shawn introduces Gus using a ridiculous name. Examples:

Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my partner Ghee Buttersnaps…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my associate MC Clap-yo-hands…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn and this is my partner Dequan “Smallpox” Randal…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my partner Lavender Gooms…
Shawn Spencer: This is my Vice President Longbranch Penny Whistle…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my partner Control Alt Delete…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my friend Ovaltine Jenkins…
Shawn Spencer: I’m Shawn Spencer and this is my partner Squirts Macintosh…

Oh my goodness, I have to stop! I could go on all day.

Humor is so important. I don’t think you need to be a standup comic to write it :) So add a little funny into your story.

Got a favorite Psych episode? I want to hear about it!
 -Angie 

24 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Cool tips, thanks!

I have never seen Psych! *runs away*

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've only seen commercials for the show. One of my favorite comedies is "The Big Bang Theory" - and you're right about needing that one "normal" character for the other characters to kind of bounce off of. :)

Grumpy Bulldog, March Madman said...

"Psych" is one of the few shows I watch, though usually I watch it On Demand because I forget when it's on. The banter between Shawn and Gus is what makes the show, so I hate when they have to do more serious episodes.

Another buddy cop show I liked was "Due South" from the mid-90s which paired a Canadian mountie and a streetwise Chicago cop. And also it had a deaf wolf. The first season was really good and then it started going downhill a little. (Incidentally that show was created by Paul Haggis, who went on to write and direct the Oscar winning "Crash" and other films.)

elizabeth seckman said...

I am shamed...I have never seen it. :(
Add to the to check out list!

Cassie Mae said...

I haven't seen it either! But this is hilarious! I love how you always find stuff from TV shows that teach us about writing. Your Phineas and Ferb post is still one of my favs. :)

Meredith said...

Um, okay, I need to watch this show. Those lines are absolutely hilarious! I need to write a funny book now, too. Love it!

Cortney Pearson said...

I've never seen it either!! *hides* This is fun, and I definitely think humor goes a long way! :D

Emily R. King said...

So funny! I was smiling just by reading the snippets you posted. All very good advice.

I have been trying to read in my spare time, so TV hasn't been in my regular schedule. But I'm hoping Netflix has Psych episodes. I need to catch up!

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

Thanks for the monday morning laughs - if any morning needs it, it's monday's :) Adding humor is a great idea for breathing new life into an old idea. Thanks for the tips!

ilima said...

Shame on me, I've never seen it. But after all these hilarious quotes, I may need to check it out.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love humor. I wish I was better at it.

Great examples. You made me smile.

Jenny S. Morris said...

My MIL loves it so I haven't watched it. But I love when one character bounces their funny off another. Asher and Miguel do that. I'm not sure how funny it actually is but my CP's seem to like it.

Jessie Humphries said...

Don't hate me Angela! I've never seen it. I pretty much stick with Law & Order, The Office, and the Mentalist. DVR style.
But yes, humor. I think it can be used in the darkest of books.

Ruth Josse said...

I love Psych! I read all of these lines to my husband and we had a good laugh. One of our favorite episodes is the one where they can't remember what they did the night before and they have to retrace their steps. So funny!

Sunny Smith said...

Haha, Psych certainly has it's moments! My personal favourite episode is "Lassy did a bad bad thing". Even the episode titles make me laugh!

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Angie,

Glad you liked Cassie's interview!

Loved this post andI'm a new follower!

Leigh Covington said...

Bahahaha! This is awesome. I love it. Once again... your tips are "spot on!" I love having a funny character in my stories. They make things so much fun. Especially when you have a "straight" character to bounce it all off of. :) Great stuff! And I love PSYCH, but I haven't been able to watch it for a while. :(

Kelley said...

I really like that show. Don't see it enough, but I do really like it.

And I LOVE how he introduces Gus differently. SO FUNNY!

Angela Brown said...

It has been a while since I've seen the show but yes, I used to catch it on the regular. Shawn and Gus worked wonderfully together. Gus being the straight-laced fella while Shawn, son of a police officer and a bit of a Sherlock Holmes-type - only in polo shirt and jeans - worked his magic simply because he paid attention better than most.

Your tips based from this show are, as usual, invigorating and making me check my WiP to add a little something to it :-)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I love Psych; my favorite characters are "Lassie" and Gus. Their facial expressions are especially hilarious, even when they're not saying anything. Lassie in particular tries to be serious but ends up being even funnier. I like that Psych episode where Gus' parents got arrested, and Gus' mother was trying to wipe off something on Gus' face even as she was being led away in handcuffs by the cops.

Tara Tyler said...

you were bustin my gut! makeupanameinator!

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I <3 Psych! I only really watch 3 shows and that is one of them. It's one of my 10yo son's favorite shows as well. Can't blame the kid.
I am AMAZED at all the quotes you were able to find. I mean, you can find enough laughable quotes in one episode but this was over MULTIPLE seasons!
I have to admit though that having Shawn as a friend would be a test of my patience :D

K.S. Lewis said...

Haha, yes! Psych is amazing. These quotes were very inspiring, and useful tips for keeping humor in mind while writing characters to bounce off each other. ^_^

Kim said...

New followers chiming in! I love Psych. Shawn and Gus' witty banter and vague '80's references always make me laugh!

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