But they can be, and since I'm making it my personal mission (it sounds so much better when it's a personal mission, and not just something I feel like doing) to make things as silly as possible, here are some tips for getting a laugh out of assorted manticores, ogres, hydra and undead creatures.
- Exagerate. A giant snake doesn't sound that funny. An Acme Bigger-Than-The-Giant- Snake Snake has potential. Never be afraid of random capitalisation (i.e. Things)
- Don't let them behave monstrously, except by accident or during temper tantrums. A werewolf eating someone isn't funny. A werewolf trying to make pasta while furry and dangerous might be. A giant lizard that stomps all over a major city looking for its baby is sort of tragic. A giant lizard that does so because it forgot to put its contact lenses in and so didn't really notice all those skyscrapers, on the other hand...
- Give them concerns that are utterly mundane. It's sort of an extension of the above, but we expect monsters to be fantastical, so having them worry about their tax return/model railway/irritating children is nicely incongruous. Remember, monsters are people too. Or have at least eaten some.
- Think about consequences. Turning into a wolf every full moon is one thing, but the funny bits come when you start to think about the minor details. Like finding clothes, or working doornobs, or the doggy urge to chase cars and cats.
- Ask how things are supposed to work. When the answer is 'oh, by magic of course', you probably have an opportunity to do something funny. Why don't bits fall off animated skeletons? Magic? Or lots of wire and gaffa tape?
- Make the monstrous cuddly, and the cuddly monstrous. Take the most overblown, tentacled, spike-mawed Thing you can think of. Now imagine that its name is Fluffy. Or that a ten-year-old girl takes it for walks and scratches what is probably its tummy. Alternatively, imagine a fifty-foot hamster (no ferris wheel would ever be safe).
- Never, ever let someone have a straightforward fight with them. Monstrous monsters have fights to the death with passing heroes. Funny monsters have fights to the death by appointment only, or insist on protective equiment, or get taken out by a falling piano, or turn out to have a phobia of humans and run off, or really just need you to sign a form saying that you fought with them and got torn to pieces, or have a huge argument among themselves, letting the hero slip past, or are beaten by a rather childish cheap shot.