Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nothing wrong ...

... Farting Around.

Some years ago I got myself sucked into writing a few humor columns for The Inquirer's long-defunct Sunday magazine. I discovered why comedians tend to be sourpusses in real life. Writing humor is very hard. Every least detail must be considered and must work. The dynamics of each sentence - both in itself and in its relation to those that precede and follow it - must be precise. When you're finished, the piece rarely seems funny, you don't feel funny, you doubt if anything is really funny, and why in the hell did you take on this assignment in the first damned place?

4 comments:

  1. That is a type of writing which I couldn't even fathom attempting. Many kudos to you for your efforts in this genre.

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  2. Susan B.8:11 PM

    Hey, I remember a very funny piece you wrote once about being at some kind of cordon bleu cooking school with a wunderkind classmate -- some kind of baby Escoffier who was making everyone else look like peasant potato peelers. That piece was very funny -- was it in the Inquirer magazine? And, if you still have a copy somewhere, can you reprint it here?

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  3. Well said, Frank. Look at a Jeeves novel or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and you'll see some of the most precise and carefully constructed prose around.

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  4. Hi Susan,
    That was, believe itor not, a travel piece. I was asked to go to Burlington, Vt., where the New England Culinary Institute was having a weekend workshop in Italian cooking. I wanted to take the class in sauces, which I knew something about, but it was filled. So I was placed in the pasta-making class instead. I felt much less confident as a larval as a pasta-maker. But the journalism gods were watching over me. The student beside me had been cooking for eight years and had a small catering business: She was 12, I believe. Wonderful for the story - upstaged by a child. What more could you ask for? And I made the most of it in the story. Nice to know somebody remembers.

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