Having a strong sense of humor or dry observation that is combined with quick thought; growing up in a home where intellectual or thoughtful humor was both appreciated an encouraged; having the ability to see the flaws and ironies in people and society and translating them into comedic observations
Characters in Literature:
Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter); Dr. Watson & Sherlock Holmes (same); Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)
Witty people can make quick observations that can turn mundane situations or events into a laugh factory of hilarity. Quick-thinking, witty folks deliver quips which are both clever and eye-opening, allowing others to experience a situation's meaning at a different level, often through the lens of irony. Most people enjoy a quick wit, especially since these types are usually the first to make a joke, or they can add to an existing joke by adding another layer of witty observation, carrying the humor further. Wit can be overt or dry, but it always has an ironic quality to it.
People with a quick wit can sometimes let their mouths get ahead of their good sense, offering humor when it isn't wanted or needed, or directing a joke toward a person, causing hurt feelings. Some people who get too enthralled with their own wittiness often veer into caustic wit and sarcasm, which can hurt or humiliate when directed personally. There is also the chance that a observation quip about a group or belief could touch on a sensitive subject unknowingly, causing offense to one of the listeners. A final, lesser negative would be how other people may feel their jokes are one-upped all the time by someone who is verbally clever.
Comedians, sitcom actors, talk show hosts, political satirists, college professors, Court Jesters
Cliches to Avoid:
Overly intellectual wit that becomes a private joke because it requires doctorate level of understanding to 'get it'
Twists on the Traditional Wit:
- I love a clever joke that I don't see coming. This is often difficult to bring about in writing without the pace or the dialogue dragging. Try bringing a longer range 'joke' into the storyline so it comes about organically, centering on a witty character!
- Targeted irony is difficult to master without causing offense, because it often entails the person it's directed toward to laugh at themselves because of a belief or action they don't really give much thought to. Comedians pull this off all the time, but the audience is expecting to be targeted. Show the witty use of irony within a story, and have it work, but in a setting where those targeted don't see it coming.
- Wittiness is something that most people enjoy and appreciate. Put your character in a situation where another character must be 'won over' to this type of humor.
Shy, Eccentric, Insecure, Proper, Serious, Lazy