Interview with Humorist, Allison Hawn

Today, I am interviewing a funny writer, Allison Hawn, whose new book, “Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor,” will be released on September 7.  

A few words about her:
Allison Hawn is a short, snarky, scrappy force of nature. As a social worker, self-defense instructor, avid Batman enthusiast and coffee-addicted insomniac she attracts her fair share of adventure. Allison is the author of two humorous collections of true short stories: “Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus” and “Life is Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor.” She resides in Spokane, Washington with her two cats and the ghost that keeps opening her closet door at strange intervals.

SARETT: Are you funny in real life -- or just funny in fiction?  What led you to the comic side of the writerly aisle?
Hawn: Well, considering all of the stories in my humor books are true, I guess that would mean that I’m funny in real life. I’m the type of person that weird things just happen to on a daily basis. For instance, this last week at work I had to break up a fight between a couple of forty-ish year old men over My Little Pony. As one of my good friends put it, “Allison, you’re broken in fun ways.”

I’ve hit the point in my life where I’ve realized that if I don’t laugh at myself and my own misfortune, then I have no right to laugh at anyone else. So, I wrote two books that I sincerely hope will help others feel better about their day.

SARETT: I find in writing comedy that pace seems all-important.  If it is too slow, the writing feels flat-- whereas in drama, you can linger over, say, the light coming in through the forest.  What’s your feeling?
Hawn: There’s a reason that the end of a joke is called  a “punchline.” It’s not a “ambling-lazily-to-your-point-line” or a “casual-stroll-towards-a-conclusion-line. As an ex-boxer, this idea makes perfect sense to me.

Have you ever listened to someone tell a joke where you could tell what the end was going to be before you got there? How much did you laugh? (If you laughed a lot, I’m guessing that you are concerned about this person writing you out of their will.)

Humor is supposed to catch you off guard, get its hits in where it can, then back up so that it can build build for another attack. The only difference is that humor will probably not break your nose. Though, if it’s done well, with just enough precision, it will make your eyes water as if your nose was just broken.

SARETT: There’s that saying, dying is easy, comedy is hard.  True or not?
Hawn: Absolutely true. This is true in written comedy and in stand-up (which I’ve done). Sometimes you write a line and think, “This is BRILLIANT!” only to read it out loud to someone else and realize, “Wait… I wouldn’t laugh at this. Where did this come from!? Was I drinking cold medication instead of coffee last night?”

Comedy has so many factors. If you don’t have the right timing, audience, syntax structure, pop culture references or proper buildup then you can turn the best line into a giant pile of gryffon poo.
SARETT: There are lot of rules about what’s good writing and what’s bad.  Is there any writing rule that you secretly enjoy breaking?      
Hawn: I try not to break too many of the “good writing” rules. However, I do have an adamant admiration for alliteration, so that may creep into my writing more than some would like.

SARETT:  Tell us about your new book!
Hawn: “Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor” is a recounting of pieces of my life as the human magnet for the bizarre. What do I mean by human magnet for the bizarre? It means that, for me, owning a cursed car, being attacked by a man wielding a foam sword, or having to battle an evil pony could manifest on any day ending in “y.”

These stories provide readers with important life lessons learned through trial and, mostly, error. It is proof that truth is far stranger than fiction in a way that readers can be entertained, without having to experience being bitten by a three-legged chinchilla themselves. You’re all welcome.

SARETT:  In a comic novel, lots of stuff that can seem scary in other forms (like corpses, for example) are treated lightly.  What’s the secret to making it funny?  
Hawn: Humor is in the absurdities. It’s not necessarily that the concept of a corpse (or equally serious thing) is funny. It’s finding the strange details about it that make it funny.

Nearly all the humor in the film “Clue” is based around not one, but two, corpses, and that movie is one of the funniest in existence. Why is a movie about dead bodies so humerus (pun intended, please make your own *ba-dum-tish* noise)? Because the writers found the absurd details surrounding the circumstances of the corpses and drew attention to those, instead of drawing attention to the overarching idea of death itself.

SARETT: I’m always trying to discover new (or forgotten) humor writers.  Do you have suggestions for our readers looking for funny stuff?
--“Foop!” by Chris Genoa
--“Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” by James Finn Garner
--“Big Trouble” by Dave Barry.

SARETT: Any new projects in the works that you’d like to share with our readers?
Hawn: I am working on both a science-fiction novel and a third collection of short stories. They are racing each other for completion, who wants to take bets on which one will win?

Follow Allison Hawn here:  

twitter: (@AllisonHawn)

Buy  her books on Amazon:
Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor (Available Sep. 7th)

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