Monday, May 22, 2017

So funny everyone forgets to laugh


I'm not sure when I began to think I was funny (funny, ha-ha, not funny odd). I suppose like many shy, sensitive kids, I turned to humor as a defense mechanism. It was probably junior high when it really started to come out. I was always a pretty quiet kid. I would sit in class and kind of mumble comments to the kids sitting next to me. Eventually they would laugh and I felt like they liked me. I was hooked on my own brand of stand up at that point.

Though it did get me in trouble in this accelerated math class that was taught by a emotionally stunted guy who had been a whiz kid in math. He may have done well in college math, but he sucked as a teacher. He was always throwing tantrums in class and being early teenagers, we pushed as many buttons as we could find. Anyway, one day I was doing my usually covert (or so I thought) monologue to the kids around me and the teacher suddenly was in my face telling me to shut my fat mouth.

Apparently he didn't think I was funny.

I don't recall exploiting my humor much until I was college studying Journalism and wrote a humor column for the college newspaper. It's where I found my voice and style. And it was even mildly successful on campus.

I always gravitated toward humor writers like Dave Barry and Tom Robbins, writers who wrote with an intelligent wit that made you laugh, but think. That's what I aspired to. But getting a job writing like that is a rare thing.

The dull as dirt stuff I ended up writing for work inspired me to look at ways to use humor to keep my mind from turning to jelly. I tried adding humor to slide show scripts and newsletter articles I was writing for work. It rarely went over well. I turned to drafting funny newsletters for people's retirement parties. This turned into drafting skits for staff meetings and then emceeing going away parties and such.

Mine is a sarcastic humor. It is a rare meeting I attend now that I don't interject some smart ass comment. Problem is, my humor always seemed funny to me when I believed it was funny. But every now and then a bit of doubt creeps in. I catch myself saying stupid stuff. I've even had some of my staff refer to my "dad jokes." Ouch.

I occasionally will attempt to be funny on Facebook and have found that I get mixed responses. Last week I posted a slide show of some of my "funny" inspirational quotes that I originally posted on my Dizgraceland page. Now whereas I can post a photo of my daughter playing in a recorder concert and get 20 or more likes, I got three likes for my "funny" quotes.

Now either it says something about the people I've accepted as friends on Facebook or it says something about my humor. I just may not be as funny as I think I am.

Nawww...I just think I need to get a bunch of new friends.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Never the Mark Twain should meet


Up until a few weeks ago, I had read a few of Mark Twain's books, but I never really knew much about him. Then my son opted to be Mark Twain for a school project and I was suddenly immersed in the man's life.

Of course his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He used Mark Twain, a nautical term from his steamboat pilot days, as his pen name. I'm not sure why a pen name was necessary. Samuel Clemens seems like a perfectly fine author's name. But name aside, he was a complex person.

I watched a two-part Ken Burns documentary about Samuel/Mark's life. It was fascinating. And it drove home how influential he was in not only literature, but in the way people viewed the world. He was also a tragic character. He rose from a humble background in the small riverside town of Hannibal, Missouri and rose to worldwide fame as an author, humorist and lecturer. He amassed and lost a fortune during his lifetime.

Basically Samuel/Mark was a brilliant thinker, but a lousy business man. Although he accumulated large amounts of cash and married into a wealthy family, he was never satisfied with how much money he had and made poor investments to try and accumulate more but they only led to bankruptcy. That in turn led him to go on the lecture circuit and earn more money. Which led to time away from a family that was tragic in its own right. He buried several of his children and his wife before he died.