Back to my notes from Erin's presentation:
What is humor? Author Rick Walton says, "Humor is surprise without threat of promise." So what does that mean? You have to surprise the reader without making them feel threatened. (For Rick's essay on humor, see here.)
Humor can can come from an established pattern that the writer breaks unexpectedly. (Example: Yes Day, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
Humor can bend language. The way you say things can be funny. (Example: Moo Who?, by Margie Palatini.) Use the sounds of words, onomatopoeia, to add in humor, or play with expressions and accents. (Example: The Dirty Cowboy, by Amy Timberlake.)
Pair two mundane things that go together and make it funny. (Example: Never Take a Shark to the Dentist, by Judi Barrett.)
Let the illustrator add humor to the manuscript by giving them ridiculous or fun situations to illustrate. Try to think visually. Think of your text as illustrations and try to visualize how the illustrator might see it. Make a dummy. Let the illustrations tell all or part of joke. Have the text and illustrations disagree. (Example: A Vampire is Coming to Dinner, by Pamela Jane.)
Warning: When you do add humor be conscious of what different ages find funny, you don’t want it to go over the child’s head. (Link to age-appropriate humor suggestions: http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/what-kids-think-is-funny.)
As you can see, it was an excellent workshop. I haven't included all my notes, but these should get you started. And in the immortally funny but sage words of Dave Barry:
"Most people have a sense of humor that's good...Some people don't. I feel sorry for those people. The humor impaired. I got a lot of letters from them, so I know they're out there. Specifically, there are a couple things [to write humor] I think you need to do. You need to have a real strong sense of pacing. Too many attempts at humor fail because A, either it takes forever to get to what's supposed to be funny and just wanders around before it gets there, doesn't seem to be any purpose. Or once it gets there, it says it over and over and over, it doesn't get out of there, you know, quickly. So, I think it's a lot like stand-up comedy, in a sense, you don't let the reader see it coming, you hit the reader with it, and then you get out of there and go to something else the reader doesn't see coming. And that's probably the most fundamentally important thing. The other thing is, it's work to write humor...if you're gonna write humor you have to take it just as seriously as if you were gonna write about anything else. You have to really work hard to get it to work."
Have a great week.