Laughter and Love
Laughter is key to romance – we know this because of the word “Happily” in the phrase “happily ever after”. My introduction to romantic comedies was as a child, not through reading but through sitting and watching Bill Collins presents the Golden Age of Hollywood movies with my family. Every Friday night he would introduce us all to wonderful pairings such as Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby; Rock Hudson and Doris Day in Pillow Talk; Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in Houseboat; and the double romantic story in Come September with Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee.
To add to this, my parents would regularly take my sisters and me to the Finos Greek Cinema (now the Enmore theatre) on a Saturday night to watch a double feature of comedy and melodrama (such a Greek thing to do!). And there was always a movie with Aliki Vougiouklaki teasing with Dimitri Papamichael – who married though later divorced (sadly, they aren’t all Happily Ever Afters).
I adored all these movies with their dreamboat men, ditzy leading ladies, their fast and sharp banter culminating in a love match. So it was inevitable that I would eventually seek out romantic comedies to read. But I found this a much harder endeavour. So many romances were based on the Romeo and Juliet school of angst and tragedy rather than As You Like It’s comedic love manifestations.
Then I discovered Janet Evanovich. This was the early Janet Evanovich who at the time was writing side-splittingly funny category romances. When Janet Evanovich switched genres and started to write crime (my least favourite genre) I followed her and totally devoured her Stephanie Plum novels. For when it comes to reading, humour is my key.
After Evanovich, I continued to search for that rare written gem combining humour and romance. Several authors that have kept me laughing and swooning over the years are Rachel Gibson, Victoria Dahl, Jennifer Crusie, Helen Fielding, Toni Jordan and Julie James.
But the most superb romantic comedy writer I have ever read has to be Australian author Melanie La’Brooy. She writes quirky female characters with inner monologues that are hilarious and eerily reflect my own observances of human behaviour. The love match in her books is not the straight man but he is the funny male character who gets the girl’s sense of humour. It is not only the physical attraction in romantic comedies that matters. It is the shared joke, the cerebral connection where the two characters are laughing and everyone else around them has missed the joke. And that is the moment, that as a reader, you know the two are destined to get their happily ever after.