Rub a Little Funny on It: Humor in Short Fiction with Robert Morgan Fisher

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Rub a Little Funny on It: Humor in Short Fiction
**Winner of the 2018 Chester B. Himes Fiction Prize for his short story, "The Line."**
Here's what judge Antonio Ruiz-Camacho had to say about the humor in Robert's writing: 


"...Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote, "The Line" is delirious, and gripping, and smart. Its language is swift and sharp, its characterizations bold and quick, and the surprises it holds for you at the end make it ultimately moving. But, above all, it's a daringly funny story – and making a reader laugh out loud is a high, rather tough, art.


And in times of hopelessness, it is also a necessity, an artist's responsibility.


I was so thankful to read "The Line." I enjoyed its joyful, irreverent take on a seemingly untouchable classic of literature. It reminded me how ambitious, how bold, it is to keep hoping for the best even when all you see looming in the horizon is pitch black."


An Essential Ingredient in ALL Writing:

We writers take ourselves SO seriously. But guess what? Even dramatic writing requires nuanced humor. Some say “Humor is a natural gift—it can’t be taught.” WRONG. It’s a process—just like anything else! But one has to learn how to use certain tools as well as study writers and stories that successfully employ humor. FACT: When forced to choose between two equally good stories—editors will go with the one that makes them smile every time.

November 5 - December 3, 2018


Even the most dramatic narratives have elements of humor. One might say they require it. Under the most desperate, dramatic circumstances there is always humor lurking. It’s often the only thing that can get us through. Where would a tragic novel like Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest be without McMurphy’s boisterous, ribald humor? In Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal’s depraved sense of humor charms us against our will, giving this complicated villain immeasurable depth. By studying and discussing a variety of select short stories (both dramatic and funny), we will explore how to infuse your writing with whatever humor is required to make the story irresistible. Oh—and did I mention? We’re going to laugh. A LOT! 


* Study and discuss the ways in which the assigned short stories utilize humor.

* Learn practical techniques for injecting humor into your story organically.

* Explore how humor can be an integral part of even the most serious, dramatic fiction.

* Conceptualize and write a short story of your own (or revise/analyze an existing piece of yours) that incorporates humor using the tools we’ve learned in class.


Week 1

You will begin with a short tutorial on humor and the first assigned, very short funny stories. You will discuss the most effective humor elements, and how POV affects the humor in each story.

Week 2

You will read and discuss assigned stories and start writing (or rewriting) your own short story.

Week 3

You will read and discuss assigned stories and continue working on your short story.

Week 4

You will read and discuss assigned stories. You will also submit the piece you’ve been working on. The instructor will get back to each student with individual notes and answer any follow-up questions.

Learning Activities: Each week we’ll read a pair of stories and discuss them in detail. The syllabus provides prompts to get the discussion going—but students are encouraged to come up with their own questions and avenues of thought.


Robert Morgan Fisher’s fiction and essays have appeared in Teach. Write., The Wild Word, The Arkansas Review, Red Wheelbarrow, The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, Dime Show Review, 0-Dark-Thirty, The Huffington Post, Psychopomp, The Seattle Review, The Spry Literary Journal, 34th Parallel, The Journal of Microliterature, Spindrift, Bluerailroad and many other publications. He has a story in the 2016 Skyhorse Books definitive anthology on speculative war fiction, Deserts of Fire and in the 2018 Winterwolf Press Howl of the Wild Anthology. He’s written for TV, radio and film. Robert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently on the teaching faculty of Antioch University Santa Barbara. Since 2016, Robert has led an acclaimed twice-weekly writing workshop for veterans with PTSD in conjunction with UCLA. He often writes companion songs to his short stories. Both his music and fiction have won many awards. Robert also voices audiobooks. (