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Thursday, February 10, 2005

The World's Classiest, Most High-Brow Humor Essay

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We are unable to accept your submission, despite its evident merit. Thank you for allowing us to consider your work, and we sincerely apologize for the delay in responding.

Best regards,
The Shouts and Murmurs Dept.

I just got a rejection from The New Yorker. I submitted one of my essays to their Shouts & Murmurs page. My writing has been somewhat influenced by what I have read over the years on that short essay forum. I realize that most of the humor essays I write are a little low-brow for the The New Yorker so I chose one that didn’t contain content that I figured would automatically disqualify it from being considered for publication in that hallowed tome. Just the thought of The New Yorker makes me use words like “hallowed tome” so I made sure that the essay I sent in didn’t have the words “turd” or “fuck stick” in it, even if though those are a couple of my favorite words.

To get published in the The New Yorker I have to start thinking like a New Yorker writer. A writer for that magazine wouldn’t even think that “crotch” is a funny word, nor would he think that death and permanent injury are topics suitable for humor. There is no room in that magazine for a gag about a flock of soon-to-be-defrocked priests trying to run down an altar boy who is hobbled by his pants pushed down around his ankles in some sort of twisted, Vatican 4-H rodeo. It’s time for me to start writing thoroughly high-brow and sophisticated humor. Let’s see what I can come up with.

During the intermission of the Verdi opera Il Porco Capitalista two wealthy industrialists were at the bar enjoying horribly expensive glasses of champagne. If you have to ask how much the champagne costs you probably aren’t even sophisticated enough to enjoy this essay so perhaps you should go pick up a copy of Guns & Ammo and stop bothering us with your annoying questions. Over their glasses of champagne (Which represent more than a week of your wages—are you still here?) the industrialists were playing an amusing game of one-upmanship over who had out-sourced more jobs to China. They called it a draw because although one industrialist had out-sourced more jobs the other had slashed all benefits for his remaining U.S. workers. The opera was about to resume so they both poured the remainder of their sinfully expensive champagne over the head of their hapless immigrant waiter and returned to their box seats.

Did I mention that all proceeds from the Opera go to a local charity? This isn’t part of the essay but have you ever noticed that rich people always have to stage some incredibly self-congratulatory process whenever they give to a charity? They always have to put on a black tie event or a golf tournament to cough up a few pennies for a “good cause.” I would imagine that you’d have to have a pretty strong stomach to hold down your sushi if you had to listen to all of the banter that goes on at one of those events. After the event, when we read about it in the society pages, the rest of us are expected to practically fucking faint from gratitude.

This isn’t going very well, is it? I started out by trying to write a high-brow essay and now I’m about one paragraph away from exhorting the hapless immigrant waiter to rise up with his coworkers against the elite opera patrons. I’ll be the first to admit that trying to make an armed proletarian revolution funny is a pretty tall order, so I’ll back off of that one. Besides, I’ll also admit that without spell check I could never pull off a word like “guillotine.”

Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture. Maybe the wealthy industrialists patted the immigrant waiter on his champagne-drenched head and pressed a crisp dollar bill into his palm. “Thank you, Urdiboo. Perhaps that will help you with your family back in Urdiboostan.” In his other palm the industrialists extinguished their lit cigarettes and returned to their seats. Urdiboo shoved his blistered palm into his pocket. He would savor the unfinished cigarettes when he quit working at 4 a.m. Out of gratitude, Urdiboo vowed to use part of the dollar to erect a cathedral in Urdiboostan in honor of his benefactors.

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