Fear is one of nature’s most wonderful gifts. It keeps us safe, routinely preventing injury and death. It tells us not to walk through New York’s Central Park after midnight unless accompanied by a SWAT team, and not to make our first attempt at juggling using chain saws. However, fear can also color many everyday aspects of our lives, including our use of humor, and the balance between confidence and fear is not a fine line, but a murky, smeared boundary that is often barely discernable or definable.
Humans have a natural tendency to avoid that which they perceive as a mistake, even inconsequential mistakes—our petty fears. We don’t like to be embarrassed, look stupid, or simply ridiculous. It’s that feeling that makes women burn all the pictures showing them wearing a bridesmaid’s dress by that famous designer, Frank Lee Hideous.
However, our petty fears also deny the fact that our imperfect humanity is the source of almost all of our humor.
Laughing at yourself is a good thing.
Pick up your gym socks before the cat buries them again.
If you’re human and still breathing, you will screw up fairly regularly. Myself excepted, of course, there are no perfect people.
Since there is no acceptable alternative to our being human, our foibles, quirks and—sorry—just plain stupid mistakes are likely to continue being a permanent feature of our lives. The choice to laugh or cringe is a personal one, but only the former is enjoyable.
Letting others laugh at your humanity is also a good thing.
In my humble opinion, humility is for people who need it.
When very young, my sister attempted to make dinner—without mom’s assistance. Unfortunately, she burned the spaghetti. No one told her to put water in the pot.
Naturally, her supportive siblings have never let her forget that particular mistake, and it garners new laughs and smiles whenever it arises in family conversations.
That’s perfectly normal. We all share humorous stories with those close to us, but. . .
Inexplicably, writing humor often instills similar petty fears.
While everyone likes humor that appeals to their taste, and editors from various periodicals and other publications are always asking for a touch of humor, many writers are hesitant to make even an initial attempt to express their sense of humor on paper, or in that grand and glorious new medium, the world-wide electron exchange. If as a writer, you closely examine any fear that you have of expressing your sense of humor, you will find that it unquestionably qualifies as petty. You never face injury or death from writing a joke as long as you live in a country where having an opinion is not a criminal offense.
OFFICIAL COMMUNIST PARTY NEWS: This week’s public opinion will be the same as last week’s until further notice.
Worst Case: Failure
Never take a personality test that’s pass-fail.
Everyone has experienced telling a joke that didn’t get a positive response. Why then is the possibility of someone not getting your joke when written so much more intimidating? There is no reason that it should be.
As a baby, you failed to walk without falling down on your first attempt. You failed at tying your shoes on the first attempt. And likely, your first kiss wasn’t listed as the hottest of the hot in the Guinness Book of World Records. If it was, and you’re female, my phone number is. . .
Fear of failure is most often an irrational fear. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow. Any fear that you have of adding a touch of humor to your writing is, when carefully scrutinized, completely unjustified.
Be confident. Laugh at it! Write it! Hit SEND!
Parting Funny: There’s a double standard, even today. A man can sleep around, and sleep around, and nobody asks any questions. A woman, you make nineteen or twenty mistakes, right away you’re a tramp. – Joan Rivers
Next Up: Humor Myths – Another One Bites The Dust
New, Old Feature: Check out History’s a Scream! It’s true: Our ancestors were as crazy funny as we are.
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