Last night in Mage turned into Standup Night at the Apollo. We wound up somewhere beyond left field and in the freeway playing in traffic. It was great! It broke the serious mood that we had been in and made the game more lively. The best line of the night was “Pentex Tampons: Stop the Apocalypse within!”. I love good comedy that is well timed and appropriate. In games it can be even more fun.
How do I go about handling comedy in serious games (like Mage or CoC)? I simply allow it to come in. There is no secret. If it is poorly timed or inappropriate then I point it out, but if not…..
There are three things that I noticed about jokes in a serious game. They are as follows:
1. Never stop a good joke. If the players are comfortable with it and want to make the joke a running thing, then why stop it? Sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered. I have seen it in CoC games. Tension levels are at a really high level and all the players are just short of biting off their finger nails, and BAM! someone tells a great joke. It relieves all the tension and the game gets better after that.
2. Be creative with your jokes. Just like the Pentex joke in our Mage game, you can bring in a really funny concept if you are creative enough. Don’t tell tired or old jokes over and over again, it will bore everyone.
3. Know when to recenter on the serious nature of the game. Like I said above, we got way off track with our joking last night. The trick was to bring us back to earth and get back into the serious side of the game. We did, and it was great! No one was hurt and the mood lightened a lot after that.
Knowing when and how to joke in a game is good. Sometimes a game just gets silly if you let it. How do you deal with these kinds of things? Do you let jokes into serious games or do you try to keep the mood going the whole time?