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~
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