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Oliver Phommavanh : what’s funny?

Oliver Phommavanh

Today we welcome Oliver Phommavanh as a guest on Alphabet Soup — he’s on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of his latest book The Other Christy.

Oliver’s books make us laugh, do you recognise some of these?

And now — over to Oliver Phommavanh!


Hey creative writers out there!

Kids always ask me, how do you make something funny? Normally I would reply by saying anything can be funny. But what if I replied by throwing a cream pie in their faces or if I screamed like a cockatoo who’s just woken up from a nightmare (which is like all the time, have you seen their hair?)? Then that might be funny. Okay, scary for the kids, but I’m laughing.

You see, a good place to start is to think about what’s the opposite of normal, or something unexpected. A lot of funny stuff comes when it’s a surprise and it’s least expected. Do you expect a T-Rex to moo like a cow? Of course not (I hope). But that’s what’s going to surprise the reader and hopefully make them laugh.

The Other ChristyIn my latest book, The Other Christy, Christy is a shy girl who loves to bake. And she’s being pushed around by another girl named Christie, who is a real meanie. Whenever it’s Christie’s birthday, she brings in a cake to the class and Christy is always left out. So when Christy decides to bake a delicious triple-choc cheesecake for her own birthday to share with her class, what do you think she’ll do? Maybe Christy won’t let Christie have a slice. Maybe Christy will give her a poisonous cake, or even worse, give her a bowl of fruit salad instead.

But Christy does something unexpected. The total opposite of normal. She decides to give Christie a slice, which surprises Christie and it’s the start of a strange friendship.

Anybody can come up with some opposites. Think about jobs, like a butcher who’s vegetarian. A doctor who’s afraid of blood. Have a go with thinking about what opposites these jobs might have:

A hairdresser

A teacher

A knight

We can find opposites with animals or things too. Think about a lion, what are they normally known for? Being brave? Being vicious? What is something unexpected that a lion could have?

So next time you are stuck with making up a funny character, start with someone or something ‘normal’ and flip it around with something unexpected, the opposite of what they could be. Then maybe if you see me, you might throw a cream pie at my face. I’ll be ready though, with my spoon in my pocket. Happy writing!


This isn’t the first time Oliver has visited us, make sure you check out his earlier posts: ‘Three Quick Questions’, and ‘Meet the Author’.

You can find out more about Oliver Phommavanh and his books on his website. This post was one stop on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of THE OTHER CHRISTY — published in June 2016.

Author:

Rebecca Newman is a children's writer and poet, and the editor of the Australian children's literary blog, Alphabet Soup. rebeccanewman.net.au.

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