Where Women are Experts!
Women are experts in knowing what women want in a romance hero. However, there is almost always one weakness and that is giving the hero a sense of humor. A sense of humor always ranks in the top five things women find sexy in a man. I think this is a shame because heroes with a sense of humor, like Richard Castle in the TV show Castle are very popular with the ladies. I know editors don’t want writers trying to be funny unless they are real pros at humor. But humor does not have to be only jokes.
Not all humor has to be in the form of jokes. Consider the different types of humor mentioned below and see if any would be fitting for your hero.
Please note that the intention of this checklist is to stimulate ideas that you can use in your story.
1. Slapstick: these are physical jokes like pratfalls. Hero likes to pretend he is falling down or actually falls down. The key here is picking the right situation for him to do this.
2. Puns may be the lowest form of humor but for the right hero, the right puns it can work well. “When it comes to drinks, citrus fruit juices are always in the limelight.”
3. Form jokes, like knock-knock jokes, might work well. This might work well when it ties in to a profession.
4. Profession jokes might work. Like lawyer jokes but make them up yourself. Don’t use one that everyone knows unless the hero is known for telling old jokes.
5. Funny props: hero might employ props to be funny. Like funny eye glasses or rubber snakes. It has to be done in the right situation.
6. Puzzles that are funny might show the hero’s intelligence and humor.
7. Cute or funny repartee can work. (This is very much liked by readers). Think of the TV show “Castle” and the old show “Moonlighting”.
8. Use of double entendres. These usually are suggestive but when done in a lighthearted manner can add humor to a hero.
9. Quotes that are funny, interesting, or sarcastic can work very well. Get a good source of quotes.
10. Point out billboards, one on top of the other, that when read together can be quite funny. Make these up to fit the storyline.
11. Hero can read funny newspaper headlines when looking at the paper. These should tie-into the story. There are books of these headlines and these could well give you an idea of your own for your story.
11. Point out funny road signs when on a drive. There are also books made up of photos of these signs. See if you can use one in your story.
12. Have hero say something funny in a stressful situation to relieve tension.
13. Have the hero make a deliberate misunderstanding to create the funny situation. This happens when a sentence or group of words can have two meanings.
14. Quirky habits can provide humor. These are even funnier when they play into another funny situation. The quirky habit needs to be established first. You might have two people with established quirky habits who meet up in a situation where their habits compliment each other. The reader could actually be waiting for the quirks to coincide.
15. Have hero tell funny one line jokes to fit given situations. (These are best kept as short as possible.)
16. Hero makes funny faces behind other people’s backs to embarrass heroine or make her laugh when laughing would be inappropriate.
17. Phone gags might work. Like when someone calls at the heroine’s apartment and the hero answers and says: “She’s in the shower. I’ll go get her out.” (It could be the heroine’s mother or pastor.)
18. Use a funny situation. Like having the heroine lock herself out of the house while she is wearing a belly dancing outfit.
19. Have hero sign songs that annoy the heroine because the lines are always apropos to the heroine’s situation: “Who’s sorry now” and “The party’s over.”
20. Hero uses a kind of sign language that he invented but is easy to understand. He uses it so that the heroine can see him but the party she is talking to cannot.
21. Use things that the hero wears like a button that reads: “Kiss Me I’m Italian”.
22. Use a key chain which reads “Of Course I love you.” (Girls like to hear that.)
23. Use quirky behavior with little kids. Hero kneels down and asks the kid an adult question like: “Do you know when the next bus for Detroit goes by?” (They are in Tulsa.)
24. Wise cracks. For example, when looking at a gangster type person who looks ugly, have hero say something like: “But I bet he loves his mother” or “yes, but doesn’t he have pretty eyes?”
25. Add on to any funny situation with a second joke: Hero wears a button that says: “Kiss my I’m Irish”. Heroine says, “But you’re not Irish”. “I know but I won’t tell if you don’t”. The heroine says: “But that would be getting kisses under false pretenses.” Hero says: “I know. Don’t you just love the forbidden fruit aspects of this?”
26. Think of funny phone messages for the answering machine for the hero to use.
27. Have hero use a voice that sounds just like a recording when answering the phone: “Hello, this is a live person. In a moment you will get a recording machine. Please leave your message with the machine and not the live person.”
28. Give the hero a supply of martyr medals to give to people who complain a lot. These look like real military ribbons and have the letter “M” embossed on them. (The situation will come later in the book where the heroine will say in panic: “Don’t you dare give that lady a martyr medal.” Does he?
29. Have gimmicks for the hero to use like the fake book which is blank inside. The title is: “All I know about the Stock Market” by Jim Jacks. BTW: Jacks is a potential or past boyfriend of the heroine.
30. Have funny bumper stickers: “Of Course I Love You”. (This is for a story where the heroine’s biggest complaint is that the hero cannot say the word ‘love’.)
31. Have a funny screen saver on the hero’s computer. “Loving you is my default. If I change my mind, I’ll tell you.” (Perfect when the heroine is always trying to get the hero to say he loves her.)
32. Hero has small noise maker in his pocket. When heroine starts to babble he takes it out and makes noises.
33. Hero has practical joke items around the house that can come into play at the right time in the story. (He has rubber item that looks just like spilled wine which he can put on the heroines expensive white jacket.)
34. Hero was a student magician and can pull objects out of the heroine ear. He does this at the most annoying and funny times.
35. Hero was or is a stage actor and he has wigs he wears to unsettle the heroine.
36. Hero can throw his voice like a ventriloquist which he does in restaurants making the heroine laugh against her will.
37. You can leverage the joke if you can make the heroine laugh when she is furious at the hero for doing the funny thing or some prior funny thing.
38. Hero can make a voice as if another person is talking to him on his cell phone. This lets him conduct the craziest conversations. This drives the heroine nuts until she figures out what he is doing.
39. Hero has habit of asking jokes in the form: “How can you tell an x from a y”. The jokes are always different and the heroine never gets them right. These should all tie into what is going on in the novel. Like the heroine is a writer and the hero says: “How can you tell an agent from an editor?” Heroine says, “I don’t know”. Hero says, “I suggest you find out before you go to that writer’s conference.”
40. Hero wears funny hats. Get the right hat to go with the story line.
41. Hero wears funny watches; some that talk, some that run backwards; some with no numbers on the face; one that looks like a sun dial but still works because the shadow moves correctly.
42. Hero has a very good foreign accent: pick the language to meet the storyline. The heroine hates this when she introduces him to her friends and colleagues.
43. Hero has very real looking candy cigarettes that he puts into his mouth in places where smoking is very much forbidden.
44. Hero has a funny door bell or door knocker.
45. Hero has a portrait in his living room of a relative. When you walk close enough to it a voice says: “What are you looking at?”
46. Hero uses legal postage stamps with his picture on them or heroine’s picture on them.
47. Hero, who cooks, has funny apron.
48. Hero has funny car horn that is only funny when he wants it to be. Otherwise it is normal.
49. Hero can do very funny dance steps which he can do in a split second every time the heroine’s back it to him.
50. Hero has a waiter bring him an old style phone while at the table with a date. She says, “That phone has no wire attached?” The hero says, “I know, that’s why I keep a cell phone inside it.” He opens the phone face and takes out a cell phone. There needs to be a reason for this like when the hero is telling the heroine that she has to think outside the box if she wants to get ahead in her job.
51. Make up: “Do you know why?” jokes. “Do you know why it was so important that someone invent blinds for windows?” “Otherwise it would be curtains for all of us.” Make the joke fit the exact storyline.
52. Make up: “Do you know what you get when you mix x with y?” jokes.
53. Make up an if x married y joke: “If Olivia Newton John married John Travolta, she be Olivia Newton John-Travolta.” Make this so it fits into the story.
54. Hero can sound just like a transistor radio giving a newscast. He does this at inopportune times. Used to do it in school and the teacher could never find the radio.
55. Hero can tap dance and does so when he is happy.
56. Hero speaks in spoonerisms to be funny. Like saying ‘fighting a liar’ for ‘lighting a fire’. Also: A radio announcer once introduced Herbert Hoover as "Hoobert Heaver".
57. Hero makes up four line ditties, little poems, to spoof a situation.
58. Hero with help of buddy does a routine where they each finish each other’s sentences.
59. Hero breaks out into a Shakespeare quote at just the right time in the story. He quotes it like a ham actor. (He could be a Little Theater ham actor.)
60. Hero makes up limericks on the spot to make the heroine laugh in serious situations. There was an Old Man who supposed,
That the street door was partially closed;
But some very large rats,
Ate his coats and his hats
While that futile old gentleman dozed.
By Edward Lear.
The above is an example of a limerick.
61. Hero and buddy seem to spontaneously break into Shakespearian dialogues when something happens in the story that gives them an opening.
62. Hero learned to play one classical piece on the piano which he does from time to time in public places to great applause. He can’t play anything else. (This may infuriate a heroine who can actually play the piano.)
63. Hero has trained his dog to do a few stupid pet tricks and he has dog do funny tricks whenever the heroine wants to have a serious talk.
64. Hero has fun with speech and numbers like saying: “There were between one and four thousand people at my speech last night.” He really meant one, as in one person, and what he said was a true statement. (There were between 1 person and 4,000 people there.)
65. Hero is always sending heroine funny greeting cards and post cards. Get ideas from read cards in a store or make up a card idea to exactly meet the needs of the story.
66. Hero gets band at night club to change the word to a popular song to impress his girlfriend. Changes “Sheri” to “Mary” when girlfriend is named “Mary”.
67. Hero leaves embarrassing or strange magazines on heroine’s desk at work.
68. Hero orders newest book by heroine’s favorite author from Europe where it is published six months before it is in US. He reads it and asks her how she liked the book.
69. Hero has restaurant sing happy birthday to heroine when it is not her birthday. This is at restaurants where they make a big production of singing Happy Birthday.
70. Hero shows up in a Santa Claus outfit to take her on a date to a very nice restaurant at Christmas time.
71. Hero rents billboard for a month near heroine’s job which reads, “Of course I love You, Mary” after she complains he does not say “I love you enough.”
72. Hero can make his voice sound just like a woman’s. He can say things when heroine is only woman in the room and everyone will think she said it.
73. Hero leaves pregnancy tests on people’s desks where the heroine works.
74. Hero rewrites cartoon captions that appear in magazines to apply to the heroine and which are funnier than the original captions.
75. Hero has plastic bugs he puts in his top desk draw in order to hear the heroine squeak when she is snooping.
76. Hero has funny phone answering messages or he records the heroine’s phone message and puts it on his answering machine. When she calls him, she thinks she got her number by mistake.
77. Hero has a little kid go up to heroine while they are seated at an event and the kid says, “Mommy, that’s not daddy.” (This is a romance cliché twist. You know what I mean.)
78. Hero makes heroine a crossword puzzle on his computer with all terms that apply to them or just her. These can be funny in referring to embarrassing moments that have already happened in the first part of the book.
79. Hero is always hiding little candies that the heroine likes at her place, at work and in her car. She never knows when one up turn up.
80. Hero has fun with silly fortune cookies. He writes and inserts the fortunes.
81. When heroine asks for a cup of coffee, hero brings her a cup of ground coffee beans. He does things like this. “Well, it is a cup of coffee. Women.”
82. Hero burns a CD with every song he can think of that has heroine’s name in it and plays it in the car when they are on an extended trip.
83. Hero sends a love letter by certified mail that she has to sign for at work.
84. Hero’s phone ring-tone is: “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.” This is also for when the hero can never say the word ‘love’. It drives the heroine nuts.
85. Hero subscribes to Cosmopolitan magazine. When asked why, he says: “Know your enemy.”
86. Hero keeps a box of different lipsticks in his car. He says at right time: “If you need some lipstick, check the glove compartment.”
87. Hero has the six most popular perfumes in his medicine chest. “Women like it when you can identify their perfume. Like when they change from x to y, it’s cool if you notice it. They think you are just infatuated with them.”
88. Hero creates a funny ‘Top 10 Reasons” list about heroine and sees she gets it at the perfect time.
89. Hero has a paper in his wallet with the heading “Before You Get All Upset Read This” and it’s all mushy things the hero has done in the past for the heroine.
90. Hero has wedding ring in his wallet he wears at the worse times: Like when meeting the heroine’s mother for the first time.
91. Hero has picture of him with his arms around an attractive woman and two little children all sitting on a soft like a family portrait. She is his sister and they are her kids. He loves to watch a new girlfriend when she first sees that picture. It tells him a lot about her interest in him.
92. Hero has a picture of himself, bare-chested, holding a baby. “I’m told women like that stuff,” he says. He has this photo on ‘business cards’ that he saves to give dates.
93. Hero has romance books with his picture on the cover as the hero. He should have a job in printing or advertising to make this work best.
94. Hero finds out that the heroine likes romances and who her favorite authors are. He gets those authors to autograph books saying nice things about him and he let’s the heroine ‘discover’ these books at just the right time in his house, office, or car.
95. Hero finds out heroine is reading a romance with a cowboy on the cover. He shows up for their next date wearing the same outfit the cowboy on the cover was wearing. He bought the book and took it to a Western wear store. She can’t believe her eyes!
96. Hero has his mother drop by while hero and heroine are having lunch outdoors in park. The mother is in on it and she says: “He speaks about you all the time. How was life in the convent for those five years?” Perhaps it’s not his mother but a friend. He could do this three different times before heroine meets his real mother. (At this point she does not believe hero has a mother.)
97. Hero has the art department put his picture on a box of cereal which he just keeps out in the kitchen without saying anything about it. (Breakfast of Champions.)
98. Hero has a parrot but he can sound just like his parrot so depending where people are in the room, they can’t tell if the parrot spoke or if it was the hero. Of course, it is possible, for a little while, for the heroine to not even know hero can speak like the parrot. This could be quite funny if the parrot answers the heroine’s questions. Like “What time does Castle come on?” The parrot says “Nine o’clock Sweetpea.”
99. Hero asks tricky questions the reader will like: “Name the only two presidents who had ‘Thomas’ as a first name”. Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson. Almost no one knows that Wilson’s first name was Thomas.
100. Hero mixes real fruit in his bowl of artificial fruit. It’s hard to tell which is which.
101. In a cafeteria while eating with heroine, he has people come up to him and give him a dollar bill. He says thanks and they walk off. When the heroine asks about this, he says: “I don’t know. All my life people have come up and given me dollar bills.”
102. Hero does obscure jokes that are easy to miss. In his office he has a poster framed with this logo: “GM Mark of Excellence”. When you look closely you see that they word “Excellence” is smudged.
103. Hero has an old 1943 Calendar in his office because it’s the same as 2010. He actually uses the calendar.
104. Hero has laughing record he plays in his car when heroine is upset with him. She can’t help herself and always laughs, too.
105. Hero pulls gags like this: he asks the heroine if it would be OK for him to give her a ring at 8:00 am tomorrow. The next day he gives her a little box with a costume jewelry ring in it. This is extra funny when she was wishing for an engagement ring but all she got was a gag.
106. Hero can play guitar and he sings songs with the wrong lyrics to make heroine laugh.
107. Hero buys the Italian edition of a romance novel the heroine wants to read. He tells her, “Everyone says it’s better in Italian.”
108. Hero has his photo taken with the bride at a wedding. He was best man so he is also in a tux. He likes to see how women react when they see the picture hanging in his home or office.
That’s just a few.