Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Laugh In

A few days back I received a tearsheet from a publication that noted me as: " . . . a husband, father and humorist."  Now, I didn't write this one--and as far as I know, "humorist" is the latest description for what I write.  But I like the sound of it.

Yeah, I write humor.  Principally, that's what I attempt to write on this blog.  But I've also published a great deal of humor over the past thirty years, styles ranging from satire (Wittenburg Door, Satire & Comment) to the wildy-raucous, to the bawdy, to the poetic, to fiction.  I also have a humorous memoir (still shopping it), hundreds of light verses, and have also written published book reviews with a humorous touch.

And, although I don't principally think of myself as a humorist, I am rather serious about laughter.  I believe it is important.  Essential, even.  Nothing bores me more than listening to a public speaker who is a serious as a triple hemorrhoid attack. And if I'm going to read a piece of writing purported to be funny, it had better be hilarious.  

I like being a humorist. And I love it when editors ask me to write more humor.  It's the one genre that editors always say they lack, and need the most.  Sometimes the ask me.

But humor is difficult to write.  As John Updike once noted, he always felt that his light verse required more skill and dexterity than his serious verse--but light verse is rarely appreciated by poetic affectionados.  Everybody wants to laugh, but few recognize the skill it takes to write a good joke.  Anyone who spends time listening to expert stand-ups like Jerry Seinfeld, for instance, will get the picture quickly.  Humor seems so effortless from the best . . . but all of the top comics will tell you it's hell getting it onto the page.  Every word counts.  Pace counts.  Delivery must be impeccable.  Timing is everything. And yes, comedians write their jokes.  On paper.  They just practice the delivery time and again until it is effortless.  

I like writing humor.  It keeps me sane.  And I'm currently working an essay entitled, "The Pastor as Divine Comedy."  When I finish the piece, it won't win any awards . . . but it might be slick enough to read if I can hold to the points and not screw it up.  

My mother always told me I was funny.  But then, I always thought she was talking about my appearance.  I like to cross my eyes . . . and Mom warned me they would freeze that way.         

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