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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Writers' Workshop

Recipe for a summer day: Take one part sunshine, one part sandy beach, one part picnic lunch. Mix together and enjoy.

That really isn’t my style of writing, to put it mildly. I think that I could take offal like that and salvage a decent essay if I had to. Let me see here. What if on that idyllic beach, in that Crate and Barrel™ picnic basket there is a bottle of chilled sauvignon blanc and two fish sandwiches. What the gorgeous couple sharing this beautiful summer afternoon doesn’t know is that the halibut they bought for the sandwiches went bad weeks ago but the evil fishmonger disguised the rotting smell by rinsing the fish with water and ammonia.

I don’t have access to the internet to look it up, and no one here at the coffee shop knows the symptoms of botulism, but I can only imagine that it is a horribly painful way to die. The young couple’s bloated corpses won’t be found for days. The beach will be off limits to bathers until the smell fades away sometime after Labor Day weekend. So much for summer; the dead yuppie couple ruined it for all of us.

My recipe for humor writing goes something like this: Take one part asinine topic, one part pain and suffering of others, and one part class warfare. Mix together with tortured syntax, run spell check, and post on the internet.

Perhaps I have been aiming too high in my search for humor. There is a saying, I forget who said it, perhaps I’ll never know who said it, maybe everyone just says it and that’s how it started, but that saying goes like this: No one ever went broke underestimating the tastelessness of the America people. Anyway, don’t quote me on that.

I am guessing that in the current movie comedy, DodgeBall, there are at least three instances when someone gets hit in the crotch. If anyone has seen the movie please correct me if I’m wrong. If there isn’t a single incident of a crotch ball in DodgeBall then I will offer my resignation, or an apology, or I will send them a check, or I will perform some meaningful act of contrition. If there are more than three groin shots then the makers of that summer blockbuster must have been the guys who wrote the line about the tastelessness of the American people.

A lot of comedy writers mine the lower intestinal track for most of their humor, literally. What most of us flush or throw out with the used Depends® is the same stuff that some comedians turn into pure gold. Turning Number Two into cold, hard cash goes way back. Excrement and humor have been skipping along hand in hand for thousands of years. Always remember to wash your hands after any encounters with humor—you don’t know where he’s been.

I mean, let’s be honest with each other, some of that low humor is a scream We are all educated people so why is the word ‘diarrhea’ so funny? If I could answer that I would be writing this from the deck of my pool instead of sitting here in this crappy café next to a homeless guy with three polyethylene bags full of God knows what.

* Alert reader Andy sent me this: I read your note from 7/7. The quote is
attributed to Baltimore's own H.L. Mencken and it goes
like this..."No one ever went broke underestimating the
intelligence of the American People.", but close enough.

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