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This panel was one of the ones I wanted to hit. My Bard & Sigurd stories aren't Science Fiction in any sense of the word and aren't really Fantasy (no magic, elves or dwarves, but plenty of Vikings and the occasional snowstorm.)
The first few passes of comments were the obvious observations:
There was a lot of discussion about who the butt of the joke is. Having a random character trip over a banana peel isn't funny. If it happens to a character who needs come-uppance, that's better. I personally like the kind of humor that gently invites me to laugh at myself; the kind that recognizes the humor in everyday life that seems so hard. Oz agreed, pointing out that humor occurs every day. Oz also gave me the big take-away from this session - You can use humor to establish your characters and "elevate" them. If they use humor or are humorous it makes them more likeable and more real.
This reminded me of the time we went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Richard III. This play is about as funny as murder, rape and infanticide ever get, but they introduced Richard III as a humorous character. The various lines in which he admits his villainy were delivered as if he were joking about himself.
It made the character likeable. When he finally kills the two princes and steals the throne, you hate him for real. The lousy SOB fooled you! He made himself a nice guy when he wasn't!
It was a very effective interpretation of the play. Much better than any time I've seen Richard III be a villain from the get-go.
The panel was fun, the panelists were funny and seemed to have a good time and I got a couple insights. Oz's comment about using humor to elevate your character was one of those "D'Oh, it's so obvious I should have realized this ages ago" lines that really made the session for me.