Stacking Stories and Friday Fun at SBV

I was participating on an author’s panel once when someone in the audience asked what I considered to be the key to writing humor and if I found it difficult when I first set out to do it. I took the second question first and explained that I never set out to write humor. I just started writing and got pegged as a humorist. As for the difficulty of writing humor, I find it’s as easy as bathing a cat but it does require the same type of special handling. The safest route I’ve discovered is self-deprecating humor. Laughing at yourself never hurt anyone. Laughing at other people can get dicey, but that speaks to my next point.

Writing humor is about training yourself to see it. It helps if you’re surrounded by a big crazy wonderful Southern family with a healthy funny bone and a thick skin to help you mine the good stuff. Fortunately, my DNA is coded for humor and my people are good at laughing at themselves. Still, my advice for other humorists is to keep it good natured and when in doubt, get permission. I make a practice of getting waivers. Aunt Marleta, bless her heart, has practically signed a blanket one.


Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how Uncle Stan and Aunt Marleta made it thru their early years without killing each other but we’re all thankful they did. Back in the day they used humor to cope. Today, that life skill brings dividends for all of us. I remember calling them shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary. Without any prompting on my part, Aunt Marleta began telling me about the previous night and how Uncle Stan started feeling around the covers when they climbed in bed. (If the direction of this conversation is making you uncomfortable, welcome to my world.)

I was already turning red when Aunt Marleta added that he groped around for a good two or three minutes. Or, as she put it, “He kept it up just long enough to get my attention — and then he stopped!”

I didn’t ask. As we say around here, “Annie, bar the door.” I knew Aunt Marleta well enough to know that she wasn’t stopping until she got to her punch line.

“Well, Stanley, ” Aunt Marleta said to her man of fifty plus years, “Why’d you stop, now?”

His reply is forever recorded in this family’s collective memories. “Because,” Uncle Stan replied. “I found the remote.”

Yes, these are my people and I crazy love ’em!  Do you have a good family story for me? I do love stacking stories with friends.

Happy Friday, y’all~

Hugs, Shellie

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Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is an author, speaker, and radio host known as The Belle of All Things Southern. Shellie likes to say, "The whole world stops for a story." She stacks hers up at All Things

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  1. Velma Hunsucker says

    My Granny, God rest her sweet soul, would say the funniest things and have no idea why we would fall in the floor laughing. When my husband and I were newly weds, he worked with my stepfather, and they would often go to my Granny’s to eat lunch. Keep in mind that my Granny was a Pentecostal evangelist. Well, one of those days at lunch she told them about a story that she had read or heard about that had her confused. (I have no idea where she came by this information.) She recalled that a man died after taking a dose of Viagra, and she was confused as to why they couldn’t close the casket. You can probably imagine that my husband and stepfather had a difficult time not spewing their lunches across the table.

  2. Beth Baldwin says

    Shellie, you, or should I say Aunt Marleta & Uncle Stanley, are just too funny! But then is why I listen to your radio program on the internet every Monday at 6pm eastern. You probably should write a book about the Adventures of Aunt Marleta. It could be a fun follow on to Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat. Come to think of it, Sue Ellen is probably one of your relatives too.

  3. says

    Beth, you are precious! Thank you for listening to ATS LIVE. Aunt Marleta, just so you know, will get plenty of page time in the next book. :) Blessings, friend!

  4. NanN says

    … While not even on the border of risque, my favorite family story involves my son about 30 years ago.
    … We just finished an evening shopping trip over at the Mall, possibly it was Christmas-time because it was super crowded … and the kids had had ENOUGH!
    … I think my husband was in that mode too, as we raced to keep up with him, single-filing our way, often sideways, to avoid the oncoming rush, out through the main aisle of Penney’s.
    … This was back in the day that had the stores grouping their mannequins and lining their aisles.
    … Always the one to keep it interesting, my 6-ish year old son would reach out and tickle his fingers on the tummies of the mannequins, proclaiming loudly, “Dummy”, “Dummy” as he walked by them.
    … I was 3 steps behind him, with an eye on my husband and daughter, the other eye on my inventive son … but clearly needed a third-eye to see the small woman, standing as still as a mannequin, BEFORE he tickled her tummy.
    … She jumped and let out a yelp … he started to cry, startled and embarrassed … I’m also feeling my face turn Christmas-Red, since he indeed called her a “dummy” too. It was one of those frozen moments that seemed NEVER to end!
    … Then, God bless her, she started laughing … through tears, my son blurts out that he didn’t mean “dummy” in a bad way … of course, making her laugh all the more.
    … All quickly became well, so we continued to catch-up with the rest of the family. However, with every ounce of sincerity he could muster, he looks up to me and says, “Mom, I’m NEVER doing that again” .

    • says

      Now, THAT is a wonderful story, Nan! I’ll be happy to hold onto that one with you and smile every time I think about it! :) THANK YOU for taking the time to share.

  5. says

    Thanks, Shellie. This was a day in much need of humor and you supplied the laughs in triplicate.

    I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but we have our “funny and odd family” up there as well. My dear sweet brother-in-law (who I adore, by the way) is a real corker! He used to cross all boundaries when entertaining the children…..even at the dinner table. Once, he let a rather noisy one just before Thanksgiving dinner. Our mouths dropped in horror. He laughed and elbowed my son and said. “Boy, now that’s gonna itch when it dries!”

    Yup….that’s going in the novel I’m writing (with his permission, I mean who gives permission for something like that????)

  6. says

    HOLLER!!!!!!!!!! That was truly a laugh out loud story, Kellie. And just the sort of thing my group would give permission to use without blinking. You gotta love ’em. :)

  7. Lisa Wingate says

    Oh, mercy, girl! If I get started on the Wingate family stories, I’ll never quit.

    I think one of my favorites has to do with Uncle Buck accidentally leaving Aunt Sut at a convenience store/gas station in the middle of the night. He thought she was in the back seat, asleep under a blanket, but in reality she’d hopped out to go into the restroom while he was in the store. Imagine her surprise when she came out and Uncle Buck was long gone!

    There’s more to the story, but suffice to say he did eventually come back to get her 😉

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