'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)
URGENT REQUEST FOR IDEAS
Boy, time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been exactly two years since this weekly humor column first appeared in the Republican-American newspaper. During that time I’ve written over 100 columns (almost 150 if you count the website version), and based on the email response from readers, I’d say almost a dozen of my articles were actually humorous. Not a bad record.
But now I’m in trouble. I am completely out of ideas. The well is dry. I’ve got writer’s block the size of a city block. I have covered every possible topic I can think of, ranging from serious issues, such as nose hair and flatulence, all the way to more light-hearted subjects, such as death.
For the past week, each time I thought I had a fresh topic, someone in my family would point out that I have already discussed it. For example, the other day one of my daughters said, “But Dad, you already wrote about how messy my room is.”
“Oh…” I replied. “I forgot.” So I had to abandon that column and come up with a whole new idea. Seven hours later, when I finally thought of something new and began writing again, my wife said, “But Honey, you already wrote about how messy the kids’ rooms are.”
“Oh…” I replied. “Changing it from one messy room to two messy rooms is still sort of the same thing, isn’t it?”
Another obstacle to finding new topics is the fact that certain people to whom I am related and with whom I live have made it clear they do not wish to be mentioned anymore in my columns. So I made a promise to write about non-familial subjects for a while. Unfortunately, most of the truly humorous stuff I observe during the week occurs within my family. Which reminds me, did I ever tell you how messy my daughters’ rooms are? Oh wait, never mind.
As you can see, I’m in a bit of a jam here. I don’t have any new ideas and my old reliable source of ideas is now off limits. If I don’t come up with some fresh material, I’ll be forced to base the next 100 columns on my painful struggle to think up new ideas. (And knowing my editors, they’ll be reluctant to publish this current whiny “Whoa is me” piece, let alone 100 more.)
But I may have a solution. And that solution is you, my devoted readers (all four of you). Based on the emails I’ve received over the past two years, I certainly don’t hold a monopoly on bizarre thought processes. Some of the messages from readers demonstrate the kind of inventiveness and creativity which is a sure sign of genius. Either that, or some people took way too much LSD in the ‘60s.
So, as part of a grand and exciting experiment—and also because I’m thoroughly desperate—I am requesting that readers send in ideas for future columns. Please send your emails to email@example.com . Send in anything at all that might be a humorous topic: a funny situation you’ve been in, a quirky co-worker in your office, your whimsical journey from the Mayor’s Office in a Connecticut city to a maximum security prison cell (there could be multiple submissions on that subject).
Be creative. And don’t forget: here in the New York Times/Jayson Blair age of journalism, it doesn’t even have to be remotely based on anything true.
Try to keep your messages and topics reasonably free of profanity, unless necessary. I promise that you shall remain anonymous, unless you give permission for your name to be used (or if you have a funny sounding name—I mean, c’mon, I’m desperate).
Send in ideas which are interesting. Send in ideas which are clever. Most of all, send in ideas which, when my wife and kids read it, will cause them to say, “Oh good, it’s not about us for a change.”
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