Kevin Maloney: How to Be a Funny Writer Even if Your Wife’s Funnier Than You
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Kevin Maloney is the guest. His new book, The Red-Headed Pilgrim, out now from Two Dollar Radio.
Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts!
From the episode:
Brad Listi: I want to dig in a little bit more about what it takes to be funny on the page. Like, what have you learned having written two books in this mode?
Kevin Maloney: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a good question. I think a lot of my friends are surprised—like I think my wife is way funnier than I am. Like in our relationship she is the funny one. And then we hang out with some of our friends and they’re just so smart. Their jokes are just coming in real time, I’m belly laughing and I can barely keep up. But so I do think being funny on the page is maybe different than being funny in real life because, like, my friends are always like, Why is your book so funny? You’re not this funny.
But I think when I hang out with funny people, I’m paying attention. I’m like listening to them and I’m sort of studying them. I’m like, Oh, that’s funny. People feel like, Oh, I’m talking to literature and, you know, this is where important thoughts happen is in a book. And to me, I think humor is the highest form of intelligence. And I think that humor in literature, like you said, is a rarity. Like Catch-22 is another book that’s just like funny and and wild and whimsical, but doing it in a smart way.
At one point I spent a long time writing things that weren’t funny. I was like, trying to write My Bad Raymond Carver knockoffs. And then at some point I published something online that was just a little more light and whimsical and humorous, and suddenly there was just a response online. And I was like, Oh, maybe there’s something there for me and I just started moving deeper into whatever that voice was. And all of a sudden I felt like people are responding to this and I feel like I’m finding the way I’m supposed to write.
Kevin Maloney is the author of the novel The Red-Headed Pilgrim, available from Two Dollar Radio. Maloney is the author of Cult of Loretta and the forthcoming story collection Horse Girl Fever. At times a TJ Maxx associate, grocery clerk, outdoor school instructor, organic farmer, electrician, high school English teacher, and teddy bear salesman, he currently works as a web developer and writer. His short stories have appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, Green Mountains Review, and a number of other journals and anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Aubrey.