How many times have you read a book or seen a movie billed as romantic comedy that simply wasn’t funny? I feel like I’ve read lots of those kinds of books and seen lots of those kinds of movies where the humor fell flat. It should have been funny but it wasn’t.
Do we even know what romantic comedy is? What it’s supposed to encompass?
Too often, I think romantic comedy is built around a situation instead of the characters. And if the humor doesn’t come from the characters, there’s no way it can be funny. You can force them into a comical situation, (think Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal) but if THEY aren’t funny, you won’t laugh. You probably won’t even be entertained. Sometimes it all seems just kind of dumb. Even a little bit sad. Sometimes writers try to force comedy to get laughs and when they try too hard no one is amused. And maybe, when they aren’t trying to force laughs, but a movie leaves you smiling and with that warm fuzzy feeling, they’ve succeeded (why did While You Were Sleeping work so well?).
My first book from Samhain Publishing (A Month From Miami) was billed as romantic comedy by my editor. I’d never considered it would fall into that genre. But when I read it now, I smile. It’s cute. Light-hearted. Warm. And the characters work well in the babysitting-for-car-repair trade scenario. Nobody’s Fool, a ten-year high school reunion story also got tagged as romantic comedy. It’s cute, but is it funny?
Maybe romantic comedy doesn’t have to make you laugh until you cry. Maybe you won’t laugh out loud at all. Maybe humor is so subjective no two people will find the same thing tickling their funny bone. But a successful romantic comedy? I think we all know it when we see it or read it.
With the soon to be released Cleo’s Web, I’m categorizing it as romantic comedy that’s actually funny. Not only is the situation comical (a 30-something disguising herself as a senior citizen) the characters play well off that (when the hero tries to keep her rule breaking secret in return for a favor. Or two.)
I’m still working on the cover. And the blurb. And the formatting. And all the other fun stuff that goes with publishing. But here’s a sneak peek excerpt from Cleo’s Web just for you:
“What do you want?” she asked so softly she wasn’t sure he could even hear her. She’d directed the question at the window instead of him.
“A home-cooked meal is what I was thinking.”
She turned to stare at him. “You want me to cook for you?”
She must have sounded horrified because he said, “Now who would have thought you’d find that more abhorrent than sleeping with me?”
“I didn’t. I don’t. I can’t.”
“Why don’t you pick one of those and go with it?”
“I, uh. I’m not much of a cook.”
“Oh, come on. You must have learned something from Gertie.”
“No. I’m a lousy cook.”
“Oh. Did you want to reconsider the sleeping with me option? I promise not to hog the covers.”
She stared at him not entirely sure he wasn’t serious. “I’ll cook,” she finally managed.
“See? That wasn’t so hard. One other thing. Don’t ever answer the door wearing what you did this morning. That disguise you had on? Wear something like that whenever you go out. I’m willing to look the other way, but the residents won’t, I can guarantee it. If they figure out you’re breaking the rules and I’m allowing it, I’ll lose my job and you’ll lose a place to stay. Got it?”
“And try to look less, er, that is, try not to be so, um…”
“So?” Cleo raised an eyebrow.
Cleo couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. And once she got going, she couldn’t stop. The tops of Daniel’s ears turned pink. But he grinned at her. Again.
And here’s my latest attempt at a label after the blurb:
Warning: Contains 30-somethings behaving like senior citizens, failed attempts to impersonate elderly individuals and numerous retirement community violations.
#Cleo’s Web #romantic #comedy