I'm not a funny writer. And that's fine if by that I mean I don't write humor as a genre, which I don't. No, my temperament type is one that tends to "deep meaning," oversensitivity,
Right now I'm first-drafting a new WIP. I've got premise, characters, setting, and emotional nuance. Hey, I've even got a plot skeleton, and I usually have to finish the draft to get that. But this book, though it's not humor and doesn't need to be, needs some levity. Which will be one of my primary goals for Draft Two. Because it hasn't got it now.
How will I find the comic relief? Well, a partial answer, I think, is to find it in a character I'm creating pretty much for that purpose. Good examples of comic relief characters are C3-PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars, and Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter books. Another key to humor in fiction is readers realizing the events are funny when all the way along the characters are panicking and blowing things out of proportion. In the Harry Potter stories, Ron Weasley often brings humor to scenes in this way.
People also tend to laugh when a character does something they, in their secret heart of hearts, would do in the same situation but never admit to, or that they think of a split second before the character or actor actually does it. Such as in the I Love Lucy scene where Lucy and Ethel are working in a candy factory and can't handle the speed of chocolates coming down the conveyor belt, so they eat them. It's so funny precisely because we would all be so sorely tempted.
Yet another important key is making surprising connections, especially when at least one of the things being connected was foreshadowed earlier. Have you ever heard the song "Cielito Lindo"? If not, and you want to, it's here. Anyway, when I was in fifth grade, our Spanish teacher taught us the song. I shall never, ever forget the chorus, which begins with a hearty, "Ay, ay, ay, ay." Weeks later, in a classroom exercise, the teacher had us all come up to the mike and say something, anything, in Spanish. This proceeded in orderly, unexciting fashion with a lot of "Me llamo Diego" stuff, until we were into the second round of turns and my best friend stepped up to that mike, belted "Ay, ay, ay ay!" and brought down the house. It was surprising, foreshadowed, and perfect juxtaposition. Not to mention brilliantly timed.
So what do you think? How do you work humor into a story, that is not itself humorous, to give it balance? What kinds of things, in a basically not-humorous story, make you laugh while still feeling they fit that story?