Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So you want to write a column: a tip or two

When people find out I write a weekly column, they often ask where I get my ideas from. The short answer is my own experience. But what kind of personal experiences should a humor columnist write about?

I find that people want to read about those moments when I'm grappling with negative emotion--anger, pissiness, frustration, acute embarrassment. And they want to read about the incident that caused it--getting locked outside in my underwear, finding out a kid has a science project due the next day, being on the receiving end of the world's worst haircut. Why do people like to read about this stuff?

Because it's funny. Humor resides in the chasm between the way things should be and the way they really are. This explains why Christmas letters are soooo dreary. Dude! It is just no fun at all to read about kids who get scholarships and husbands who get promoted.

One more thing. Always make yourself the butt of your own jokes. People will accept what you dish out if you're your own favorite target.


shelley said...

Humor really levels the playing field too. Those are all common experiences everyone has and can relate to. Humor eases tensions, connects people, brings out the best in others, and I think you column is fabulous.

Pink Ink said...

I think writing a column would be such a hoot, though I'm sure my family would walk around with paper bags over their heads all the time :-)

Lisa B. said...

I have always admired your columns, because I think writing funny is one of those very tricky things--it is way harder than it looks. And you do it all the time. Tip of the hat!

Alec and Randi said...

Awwwww. Can't I just make Ronda the butt of all of my jokes?

Louise Plummer said...

I like to make my own butt into a joke.