“Today’s Humor—Whither?” or “What’s so Funny, Buster?”
Today’s humorist labors under onerous conditions and restrictions not experienced by the cutups of yesteryear. (I just thought of this yesteryear.)
“And what are those conditions and restrictions?” you may well ask. Go ahead.
There are too many landmines out there that we humorists have to avoid nowadays. Too many sacred cows you can’t tip over anymore.
For instance, when did orphans and poor people become off limits? I’m sure that many of them have a sense of humor, but still, it seems we now have to steer clear of them.
“Well, what about making fun of rich people,” another question you again may well ask…but don’t push it.
The stars of the silver screen, the gridiron, the stump, the pulpit, the boardroom, and the car pool would seem to be fitting targets for japes, bon mots, and knee slappers, but when you look closely at the tragic lives many of these gin besotted, reefer smoking, bejeweled celebrities lead, holding them up to good natured ridicule would be like shooting fish in a barrel (now that is a hoot).
And if one writes about one’s hilarious experiences at some mogul’s mansion, the vast majority of one’s, or even two’s, readers can’t identify with them, and are still smarting after paying a cover charge to hear you deliver your stuff, or after paying big bucks for your book and blaming you for its exorbitant price. Though, here’s a tip. Do what my readers do. When my books come out, my fans just wait a week, and then buy them off the bargain table.
Anyway, it seems like the only ones left to make fun of are you and me. You? Don’t make me laugh.
And, there’s certainly nothing funny about me, a fact I will continue proving throughout this piece.
So what could I write about that would tickle a judge’s fancy? (The pros don’t move on lines like that.) What would be a funny subject that hasn’t been done or done well, making it rare indeed? Something readers could identify with, wrap their eyes around.
Well, my secret to having won this year’s competition (here, I’m using the future improbable tense) was to venture into virgin territory. I will reveal my findings at the end. No fair peeking.
Now as to style, who to emulate (rip off) without anybody catching on? I remember showing one of my essays to all of my friends, and being profoundly embarrassed when all three scornfully, joyfully, and correctly accused me of plagiarizing Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. I like to think I’ve picked my friends more carefully, and had taken the appropriate steps to cull out anybody whose reading ability was above the third grade level.
Anyway, those darned old rules say the style should be Benchleyesque, which is a ballet term, meaning “impossible to duplicate.”
In conclusion (sounds of coughing subsiding noticeably), I finally thought of the perfect untouched subject—so, without going over the 500 word limit, I can definitely say that the subject is…