In Mark Twain's essay "How to Tell a Story," what does Twain say is the difference between telling a humorous story and telling a comic story?
The very first difference between a humorous story and a comic story that Twain mentions is the difficulty difference between the two stories. Twain says that of all the types of stories that are out there, the humorous story is the only difficult kind of story to tell.
There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous.
Next, Twain mentions that humorous stories are American, while comic stories are English, and witty stories are French. Immediately following that statement, Twain tells his readers that humorous stories depend on how they are told, but comic and witty stories depend on the subject matter of the story. The next difference is a possible difference in length. Twain mandates that comic stories are short; however, humorous stories can be of many different lengths. A humorous story can even be long.
The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point.
Probably my favorite difference is the "work of art" difference. Twain says that humorous stories are works of art. This is a huge compliment to the Americans since the humorous story is American. Next, he insults the British and French types of funny stories by saying that they are not art and "anybody can do it."
Additionally, comic stories announce to the audience that the story will be funny, but a humorous story will be told "gravely," and the humor is hidden and emerges as the story progresses.