'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CLARIFICATION: THE EXAGGERATION WAS EXAGGERATED
A while back I wrote a column discussing the fact that nowadays whenever I don’t get enough sleep at night, the next morning I feel like I’m hung over. I’m kind of an expert on the sensation of being hung over, as I spent the decade-long period from ages 17 to 27 consuming a lifetime’s worth of alcohol.
In that column, to make the point that I used to drink too much, I exaggerated my boozing exploits in college. Don’t get me wrong, the reality of the situation was pretty bad. However, I did not in fact pass out on the floor of a fraternity house basement every single Friday and Saturday night for four straight years. I mean, come on, even Lindsay Lohan takes a night off once in a while.
In response to what I wrote, a letter to the editor was published, in which the writer made this accusation: “Drinking to excess is an activity supported by the newspaper.”
The letter writer’s residence was listed as the city of Waterbury. So I assume she is familiar with the official editorial position of this particular newspaper, which is THE most law-and-order, traditional morality, family values position of any newspaper in the entire state. To claim this publication supports excessive drinking makes about as much sense as claiming President Obama supports federal funding for Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.
But anyway, that’s not the point. If a weekly column is titled, “Matter of Laugh or Death,” indicating it is supposed to be a humor column—at least in theory, if not always in practice—then it’s safe to say it may contain some occasional exaggerations. (I am using, of course, the definition of the word “occasional” that means: every single sentence and phrase.)
The folks who attended my world-renowned presentation a few months ago at the Southbury Public Library on the topic of “What Makes People Laugh?” know that exaggeration is a key component of humor. (For example, it is the height of exaggeration to describe my library presentation with the phrase “world-renowned.”)
Additionally, when a column appears in the Accent section of the paper, you can be reasonably sure it is not a hard news story, nor is it an editorial position, nor is it designed to proclaim the message, “Hey everybody! An activity supported by this newspaper is to go out and drink to excess and then drive your car at high speeds! Yay!” If it’s a humor column in the Accent section it’s just meant to be, well, a fun read.
Just in case there is still some confusion, let me state categorically that my view on the topic of drinking to excess can be summed up in one word: No!
Hmm, I’d better make that two words: Hell no!
Drinking to excess caused me to lose a job, almost lose my wife and family, and on countless occasions almost lose my life. I’m still kind of amazed that my liver functions properly today after all that abuse. I’ve witnessed way too many times how drinking to excess can cause misery in the lives of individuals and entire families.
I hope that clears up this unfortunate misunderstanding. Let me conclude by listing some other activities I may have mentioned in my columns in recent months that this newspaper definitely does not support: criticizing the musical and lyrical shortcomings of “The Star Spangled Banner,” claiming that figure skating is not a real sport, and middle-aged men sleeping in Red Sox jammies.
Also, this newspaper does not support President Obama’s desire to give federal funding to Rush Limbaugh. He’s making plenty of money on his own.
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