'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE AMAZING WORLD OF [FILL IN THE BLANK]
Let me just say this in advance: I apologize!
This was such a busy week, I didnít have a chance to write my humor column. To be honest, Iíd much rather see a lousy essay underneath my photograph than a good essay underneath someone elseís photograph. (Unless the newspaper changed its policy and will continue to pay me even if I donít workóoh wait, I forgot, thatís the federal governmentís policy toward wealthy Midwestern farmers. In my case the procedure is unchanged: no column, no money.)
Since my oldest daughter is heading off to college this fall, and the first of many massive tuition payments is due August 1st, Iím scrounging for every last nickel I can find. (Iíll take in your laundry! Iíll mow your lawn on the weekend! Iíll do a Chippendales dance at your ladies-only bachelorette party! Give me a call!) Therefore, I felt compelled to send in something to the newspaper this week.
At first, I was going to send in a list of 700 words randomly chosen from the dictionary. (Yeah, yeah, I know, it seems like thatís what I do most weeks.) But I was afraid this might be the one time when the editor actually reads my submission, so I thought Iíd better send in something semi-coherent.
I know this might be giving away a closely-guarded industry secret, but I decided to send in my official ďhumor column template.Ē This is the structured, fill-in-the-blank formula used by every rich and famous humor writer (both of them), and also by every poor and obscure humor writer (all 9 million of us).
Consider this a do-it-yourself, work-at-home project. Read through the column template and fill in your own hysterically funny lines. (And if anyone laughs at it, feel free to send me not only the funny lines, but also a check.)
Guaranteed hilarious humor column:
I find [fill in the blank] fascinating. Itís amazing what they can do these days with [same thing, phrased differently].
However, I donít understand why people put up with [a minor aspect of chosen topic]. I mean, itís as if [clever analogy]. If it was up to me, Iíd [even more clever idea].
Last year I traveled to [name of city where no one can check my facts] and found myself [amusing situation]. Later on, when I explained to my wife what happened, she rolled her eyes and said, ď[exasperated critique].Ē
Sometimes I wonder whatís going on in the world. Years ago, things were different. You could always [wistful lament] and you never had to worry about [dangerous feature of modern life]. When I was a kid, we would spend all day [typical childhood activity]. I can remember getting in trouble only one time ([parenthetical wisecrack about poor memory]). My dad said to us, ď[Ward Cleaver-like scolding].Ē
Things have changes so much, youíd think it was [latest government conspiracy theory]. Why, I wouldnít be surprised if [blame Bill and Hillary Clinton].
In conclusion, I must say [incredibly inventive and brilliant conclusion]. And donít forget: [even more incredibly inventive and brilliant final punch line].
OK, so now you know our secret industry formula. But donít think this will instantly make you a professional humor writer. Heavens no, that requires years of training and experience and the kind of creative talent which comes along only once in a generation. (This creative talent came along in my generation, regrettably, in the person of Dave Barry.)
And whatever you do, do not send in your humor essays to this newspaper. This paper already has a gifted humor writer on staff (even though he occasionally has nothing to send in at deadline time, and I promise, it will never happen again), and I believe I recently overheard the editors say they wanted to sign this gifted humor writer to an exclusive lifetime contract and give him a big raise and a massive signing bonusópayable just in time for a certain August 1st financial obligation.
So we donít need any help here humorwise, understand? But if you really feel compelled to send in your literary efforts, hereís the address: Features Editor, Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, 389 Meadow Street, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
And you can take my word for it: the check is in the mail.
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