What’s your favorite parody? On the Morning Media Menu today, we interviewed Henry Beard, a co-founder of National Lampoon and one of the writers behind the classic parody of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s work, Bored of the Rings.
This pioneer of the parody genre told us how he co-wrote this slender comedy book in three weeks back in 1969 with National Lampoon co-founder Douglas Kenney. The book was recently re-released with a digital edition, something the writers never dreamed of when they started the project.
Press play below to listen. We’ve also collected some helpful writing tips from Beard underneath the audio player…
Beard shared this advice for aspiring parody writers: “You make fun of these things by making more of these things. By exaggerating as much as you can. Usually, books that are parody-able (like by Clive Cussler) are by people who aren’t very good writers. Or, if they are good writers, are very, very predictable. Which gives you a sound and a tone that you can work off of. It’s kind of lazy, I have to admit, because somebody else has done all the work and you are taking a free ride. But it’s up to you to be funny about it.”
Beard also discussed why the book opened with a salacious page of hobbit erotica that is never revisited throughout the book. He explained:
“It was pure Douglas Kenney. It was deliberately done … He said: ‘You know, this doesn’t have an awful lot of sex appeal. Why don’t we have a sex scene as an advertisement on the first page of the book, and then don’t do anything else about it. Then we won’t have any problem getting the thing published because there won’t be anything dirty in it, but people will think there’s something dirty in it.’ It’s a classic bait-and-switch that we practiced our entire writing lives, and I recommend it as a technique. Anytime you can attract an audience (no matter how fraudulently) with a nice piece of writing, you should do so.”