Facial expressions and the element of surprise

Karalee’s Post #45

I spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen as I believe in cooking from scratch for my family. I’ve decided to lighten up my cooking time and instead of watching Criminal Minds or Drugs, Inc. to satisfy my bent for mystery and the criminal element in my writing, I’ve turned to Just for Laughs: Gags.

I haven’t laughed so hard in years.

The gags generally rely on one main theme: the element of surprise. And the reason behind the surprise determines the facial expressions. For instance:

  • people try to make sense out of what is obviously non-nonsensical. How could anyone think that a dead chicken wrapped in saran could move and squawk? Or a filing drawer from a two foot cabinet be pulled out thirty feet?
  • for some reason body functions especially farts are a source of embarrassment in our society and seem to be especially funny if it’s from a woman. Imagine sit-ups. By-standers expressions are hilarious.
  • Sex is even more entertaining especially if it is between old people
  • people are generally very helpful, but when something unexpected happens their reactions range from shock, disbelief, and amazement. The variation of expressions, and whether the person stands frozen in inaction or react quickly to help, is amazing.
  • people stare in fascination and generally (surprisingly to me) in a state of indecision when someone is obviously doing something wrong right in front of their eyes. It took me a couple of episodes to realize that the person in the “wrongdoing” was also in a position of authority such as a policeman. Who does one turn to when a policeman is trying to go after a “thief” and rams the cars both in front and behind his cruiser to get out of his parking spot in a hurry?
  •  And you can just imagine the expressions on those trying to cover up for a nun nursing a baby, especially when they “admit” the baby is theirs and the nun runs off and leaves the baby behind. 

People’s reactions to the element of surprise is amazing. Their expressions are genuine and seemingly exaggerated, and right there for writers to study.

Not only will you be entertained watching Just for laughs: Gags, it is a must show for writers to watch facial expressions and body language.


1 thought on “Facial expressions and the element of surprise

  1. The thing about facial expressions is that accurately describing them with the written word is too long and complicated. You lose the emotional impact of the situation if you describe the facial expression in detail, so you summarize it, and run the risk of cliche. What’s easy to do visually is hard to do in writing.

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