What causes a novel to come into being?
This is the only part of the process I cannot help you with.
It can be something you read on a crisp packet, a conversation in the street you overhear. Sometimes you start with a character, sometimes a line of dialogue, sometimes a concept or a place or an event. They all start differently. There is no right way to start them off.
Most of mine start off as odd questions.
what is funny?
Comedy is not a science, it's art. Therefore there are no rules and it can be very subjective. What one person finds funny another might cringe at.
One thing worth noting is that when analysing comedy and what is funny, it is almost like it is only visible out of the corner of your eye. As soon as you try and look directly at it and analyse it too much... all of the funniness disappears...
Why do we find things funny? Why does this reaction force us to convulse and make that noise?