I’ve always been a fan of Deadpool. I’m not just jumping on the boat because a movie is coming out in a couple months.
My old roommate, current colleague, had some of the comics, and I would read his. Even before that I knew of Deadpool and respected the idea he knew he was a comic book character, a seemingly insane aspect in an otherwise supposedly sane world. I especially appreciated when he informed Wolverine that a healing factor did not keep the X-man alive. Popularity did.
Despite having been a fan of Deadpool previously, I really delved in the past year. I bought the first two complete collections.
What really slapped me in the face was the end of the first collection. The entire book was him trying to claim wealth. His most prized possession was a chair made out of plastic explosives, but that had to be used in a mission. He had nothing.
After a fateful encounter, he was given stupid amounts of money, and then told to stay quiet for a while. There was joy and jubilation. He sat on a real chair in his place, where he watched TV and ate chimichangas all day.
He then said he had everything he ever wanted, but he thought it would be…more. And proceeded to blow his brains out, but his healing factor is ridiculous, and tops he knocked himself out for twenty minutes.
The second collection has him trying very hard to become a hero, instead of an anti-hero. He tries to make friends, shrug his killing ways, and so on. There is humor. It is hilarious. Yet there is also that darkness to Wade Wilson as he struggles with doing the right thing, even though he did the wrong thing so often that everyone hates him.
“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” -Joss Whedon
Deadpool is the heart of this, though perhaps in reverse. Quips cleverly with Bullseye, even wears a meat suit, then splatters his gray matter all over the place because life has no meaning. Saves the day, shoots off fireworks (it’s the little things), is still left behind. I love Deadpool for the little pleasures he makes room for, where other heroes are too busy just getting the job done.
In your own writing, a funny character, a funny circumstance is often underlined by a painful one. Painful circumstances are fantastic for inserting a little humor. No one expects it. People cope in wildly different ways, giving you latitude (for more on this, watch episode 12 of Firefly: I would state season, but there was only one).
Shakespeare used this method, as well. Before any tragic scene, he would have a comedic interlude. Often times, characters we did not know were involved. Guards who heard rumors. You know the guards. They’re the ones who couldn’t keep an old lady out of a restricted area. They wouldn’t notice a marching band trompsing by. While being some (often bawdy) comic relief, they are also used to sum up the plot to that point and lay out the coming conflict. The humor was required.
Your readers can only take so much intense and humor is a fantastic way to break that up. Because nothing’s more tragic than the underlying sorrow found in humor. This is the lesson of Deadpool.