Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – The Art of Bantering: Not as Easy as You Think by Charles E. Yallowitz

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Today another post from fantasy author Charles E. Yallowitz who has a wonderful blog where you can find stories, thoughts on life, book related posts and poetry. I will be sharing his final post next week.  This week a look at the art of ‘Banter’ the exchange between two people… usually comedic.

The Art of Bantering: Not as Easy as You Think by Charles E. Yallowitz

Claw-Man and Web-Dude? 😛

What exactly is banter these days? I know the official definition is a ‘playful or friendly exchange of teasing remarks’. Not exactly like what you see in  the above example, but I keep seeing examples of banter that ignores the playful or friendly part. Since comedy/humor is subjective, this is going to be a tough topic to write about. I know what I believe might not be shared by others, so I’m going to try my best to keep it within the mechanic of banter and what I always thought it was.

Keep in mind that I grew up with The Marx Brothers, who excelled at cutting remarks and comedic banter. That tends to be my baseline, which was expanded by me reading older Spider-Man comics where he flung insults. Now, the superhero stuff tends to be labeled as banter even if there’s no back and forth. I keep running into people saying that they love Deadpool’s banter . . . He’s usually just cracking jokes and insulting enemies. It’s more antagonizing a foe in a similar vein to Spider-Man, but that doesn’t always fall into the banter category. So, what do I think you need for banter?

As stated in the definition, there’s supposed to be a friendly and playful aspect to banter. You don’t typically get this between enemies. Savage insults getting hurled faster than bullets isn’t really banter due to the emotions. The audience might be having fun, but it’s the participants that denote banter. They have to be the playful and friendly ones. For example, Fritz Warrenberg and Nimby would get into back-and-forth insults at times and that would be banter because they were being playful. Luke Callindor and the Lich doing the same isn’t the same because they’re trying to hurt each other. Banter is supposed to be something that friends do and is easily shrugged off because it was ‘done in good fun’.

I’ve seen a lot of people mistake puns for banter as well. That can be part of it, but a character spitting out jokes isn’t bantering. Not really sure of the term, but it’s missing an important aspect to be banter. That would be somebody replying. This is a two or more person comedy because you need responses to keep the whole thing going. If a person is flinging insults and jokes without anything going back to them then they’re probably the comic relief. Hey, I think I remember the term I was thinking of. Anyway, you can have back-and-forth puns, but it’s that first part that’s necessary for true banter.

This is why I mentioned in the title that banter is harder than people think. Not everything funny falls into this category, especially when you consider that comedy is as varied as music and movies. There are genres of comedy just like every other type of entertainment. Banter is a style and technique that can be used in any of them, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the answer. In fact, it shouldn’t be the only one used or it loses it’s appeal. Kind of like how horror movies and video games overdid jump scares a while back, you can eliminate the appeal of banter by overusing it or extending the definition to ridiculous lengths. This is the challenge: You need to know what a technique really is before you try to use it or say you’re using it.

If I had to give a tip to how to use or learn about banter, I would suggest looking at older comedies. Not as far back as the Marx Brothers, but I remember a lot of good banter from Eddie Murphy, Gene Wilder, and Robin Williams movies. Many times, a sharp and quick wit leads to banter because you need to be fast with the responses. There’s that comfort level between participants that allows banter to move at a fast pace to give it a the natural playfulness. This also requires that you have a deep understanding of the characters and their relationship when you do it in your own works. Are they close friends that can get away with such comments? Do they have enough knowledge of each other to bounce off each other? Are they really friends or merely coworkers/partners with nothing more than a working relationship? Weird question at the end, but I’ve seen plenty of ‘banter’ that comes from two characters that show no sign of friendship and the exchange ends up being out of place. Comedy can’t be forced.

What do you think of banter? Do you think it’s being either overused or simply being used to define witty comedy in general? Do you have a favorite banter example?

©Charles E. Yallowitz 2018

For me Morecambe and Wise were the banter kings… let us know who you consider to have this witty form of comedy down pat….thanks to Charles for giving us something to think about.

A selection of the most recent books by Charles Yallowitz


A recent review for War of Nytefall: Book Three – Rivalry

Apr 16, 2019 Ionia rated it four stars

I am not someone who typically loves books that are centred around vampires. I have never had much of a fascination with them, (perhaps this comes from Romanian roots and the eye-rolls that go along with those roots,) however, I feel like the author has created a new and interesting breed of vampire in his Dawn Fangs. They extend the normal parameters that one expects with vampires and I like that they are not all simply humans, but other species as well. They have a range of personalities, which, is nice to see.

This book is not light on action and there is always something happening to capture the reader’s attention. It is a bit gorier than some of the other works set in Windemere, but one should probably expect that when the book is about vampires. I like the various settings in the book and the author does a good job of visual imagery and transporting the reader to a new location each time the characters move on to a different place. There has been quite a lot of character development and some fantastic new arrivals since the first book in the series.

All of that being said, I do have some fundamental issues with this book, as with the other books by this author. I want his characters to take themselves more seriously. I can appreciate a moment of levity here and there when it is called for, but sometimes, I feel like you never get to feel the pain these characters truly feel, because there is usually comedy of one variety or another involved. For me, this takes away from a serious situation and makes it seem superficial, casting the same unfortunate glow on the characters. I want to hurt and feel pain when the characters I have grown to love are feeling it. I want to feel their joy and triumph when they overcome an obstacle or share something special. I don’t always want the two things to be mixed.

It seems to me, that the author is fully capable of producing material that will shock and please an audience and could grow these books into something much bigger than they are. Still, I feel he is holding back. Perhaps is afraid to offend the audience with too much darkness when exploring the depths of his characters? I personally think any author with the talent to write such creative works, should not be afraid to express themselves fully and take ordinary to extraordinary by not worrying so much about what the audience may think.

In any case, there were a lot of good things about this book, and a lot of reasons that you might want to pick it up and give it a read. I, for one, love the tournament style fighting–which is kind of Roman Colosseum with added magic. I enjoyed the suspense of those fights and never knowing what kind of opponent the characters were going to face.

Overall, this is a good book, written by a highly talented author who is good at provoking the reader’s imagination.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Charles on Goodreads:

About Charles E. Yallowitz
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire Stare. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Links to connect to Charles on websites, blogs and social media.

Legends of Windemere Blog
Charles E. Yallowitz Website

Thank you for dropping in today and I will be sharing a final post from Charles next Saturday…

21 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – The Art of Bantering: Not as Easy as You Think by Charles E. Yallowitz

  1. My early and later life was quite ‘male dominated’. My father had a very definite, strong character, as did three of his brothers. We did a lot of ‘visiting’ years ago and there was a huge amount of kidding and humour. I went on to have three sons who all have their father’s sense of humour, which I love. We all appreciated Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Woody Allen, Dave Allen, The Goons, the Marx Brothers. Robin Williams, Gene Wilder and Monty Python, et al. Banter leaked into sarcasm at times and practical jokes at others, but it was mostly good humoured. What’s a day without laughter! Thanks Sally and Charles. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post Charles. Thanks for breaking it down. Times have definitely changed, we have to be so careful of what we say or how we phrase it for the famed ‘politically correct’, even though so much of life isn’t. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I appreciate you pointing out that so many things people call banter are not. All I can do is relate it to my own works, but the cowboys in Panama had banter. They poked each other all the time. Lizzie and The Hat go back and forth a lot, but it’s more like a comedic argument than true banter. More like Archie Bunker style if you know what I mean. Comedy is so subjective, and there is a risk involved. People seem to like my root monsters, but they could have come across like Jar Jar Binks too. I got lucky. I think all stories deserve a bit of comedy. You have to limit it in horror, but can turn it up in other genres.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is also a cultural element.. when we lived in Texas in the mind 1980s having come from British humour to American comedy, it took a while to adjust.. perhaps because it was based more around daily life than our comics who tended to rattle of the jokes one after the other.. except for the double acts like Morecombe and Wise and the Two Ronnies who could bounce off each other..Some of our comics and I suspect it is the same in the US, feel that the restrictions put on humour today means that they have very little to be funny about.. but I do think that some comics in the past have come across as bullies and that now they have to be cleverer about their humour.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true. Many of the comics of old would trigger our super sensitive society of today. Modern sensibilities have to leap back to the days of old, and skip Richard Prior, George Carlin, or Sam Kinnison.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up -Herbie Hancock, Gems from Your Archives and Talkative Parrots. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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