After I finished reading Simon Haynes sci-fi comedy "Hal Spacejock" I shook my head and thought, how does he make it look so easy. Haynes manages to write a solid story that would be entertaining enough as a typical space opera style adventure. Hal has to transport a cargo of robot parts from one planet to the other. Of course a ton of different obstacles end up in his way including marauding battleships, killer robots, cargo thieves and sabotage devices. The pace is brisk, the characters are likable and the books just flies by.
And to top it all off, it's laugh out loud funny. Haynes uses all kinds of humor from the patented sarcastic comments, physical comedy (something very hard to pull off in a book) and spoofs of classic sci-fi stories and movies.
When comedy is done well, it can make a good book even more entertaining. The characters are more memorable because you remember the humorous moments or the witty dialogue. You'll want to pick up the book again (or it's follow-up) just to see what the author comes up with next.
In my own writing, I often find that my stories end up going toward the serious side of things. A little levity can help any book, even if things are grim many readers may appreciate some gallows humor.
The trick is, if humor is done poorly, it can detract from the book. You'll remember a story for it's corny jokes, or bad puns. So the balance must be found. That's where readers come in. I'll try humor and see how my readers feel about it, if it doesn't click they'll tell me. If they laugh they'll tell me.
What is your favorite book or moment from a book that used humor? Have you ever read a story that used humor badly? Have you ever tried to use humor your writing?