Move and You’re Dead!


Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

JUST FOR FUN
 
 

Ah, moving day—that joyous equivalent of hell on Earth.

I actually enjoy apartment living. It’s nice to have a crew of illegal immigrants mow the lawn regularly, not to mention the amenities such as a treadmill that you can look at daily and know you never have to use. However, greed has invaded the apartment market. The landlord always wants more money, which he blames on the county tax board, the utility companies and market prices. The latter being what he can get away with in concert with all of the other greedy landlords
in the area.

Okay, I’m whining, but I’m also trying to conserve some of my income for me.

Then, a windfall came my way. I was offered a lovely, two-bedroom house that had been sitting vacant for over a year. Granted, it was an older house that needed a little work, but it offered more room and was significantly less expensive than paying for my landlord to send his kids to Harvard.

Packing My Stuff
When you really need one, cardboard boxes become more valuable to people than their children.

I briefly considered shelling out three to four dollars per box for new, single-use cardboard that I was going to recycle in a matter of days. While I don’t march on Earth Day, somehow such obvious waste nettled my conscience and promised karmic retribution. So, I collected free, used boxes from local businesses, and thanked the business owners profusely for their generosity. Unfortunately for the planet, I was unable to locate used tape.

Filling the boxes goes faster if you don’t bother to clean anything…Nah! At the very least, I dusted everything that went into a box, and avoided Styrofoam peanuts by cushioning fragile items with extra cardboard, old t-shirts and towels that I needed to pack anyway. Let me tell you, my environment-friendly karma was looking good! However, as I probed deeper into the dark, hidden recesses of my closets and drawers, I discovered a most unsettling fact of life. Frankly, I don’t have a problem storing things that I only use once a year or so—punch bowls, lockjaw pliers, first-date cologne, etc. However, moving day also uncovered items I couldn’t imagine using—ever. What was I thinking when I bought a doggie backscratcher and a battery-powered melon baller? Idiot!

The Move
The actual move is simple if you stick to basics:

  1. Load truck.
  2. Take ibuprofen.
  3. Drive to destination.
  4. Unload truck.
  5. Take more ibuprofen.

This Old House
Hardwood floors! Room for all my stuff! A shed in the backyard!

I was seriously impressed with my excellent decision until the hot water in my morning shower turned into the runoff from an Artic glacier. (That old joke about cold temperatures and the size of male genitalia is no joke.) I also learned that sudden shocks will make you rip down your shower curtain while escaping.

Two days! I had hot water for only two freakin’ days before…

I’m sorry, but your electric is not up to code for me to install a new hot water heater. You need to call an electrician first, so for this service call, I’ll only charge you one arm, two legs and maybe a kidney.

Fortunately, the electrician was able to diagnose the problem with the hot water heater as a fault in the wiring and not the heater itself. However, the age of the wiring and many, many years of jury-rigged circuitry made this old house a fire trap and, plainly, a bit dangerous for daily living.

Remind me, how did the previous owner die?

While the electricians upgraded my wiring and breaker panel, I busied myself with painting the house, interior and exterior. Admittedly, the electricians were fast and professional, and I was unbelievably grateful to have new, safe, ground-faulted wiring in the house when the toilet overflowed and I discovered that standing in raw sewage is a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.

I now learned three things that everyone should know:

  1. Using a plunger is a dirty business.
  2. People who buy liquid drain cleaner always use the store’s restroom.
  3. Plumbers who work weekends require you to pay for their new Mercedes.

I’m fairly certain that he drives the same model as my old landlord.

Parting Funny: I have French doors in the bedroom. They don’t open unless I lick them.
Judy Gold
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Bad Equality For Women?


Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

JUST FOR FUN
 
 

A recent article in the magazine, The Atlantic has reported a surprising and somewhat disturbing trend.

A century ago, men were three times as likely as women to have a drinking problem. Among people born in the 1990s, the odds are essentially the same for men and women.

You just gotta love scientists with an inordinate interest in our bad habits.

Frankly, I have no objection to any adult having a drink. America’s flirtation with Prohibition was, at best, an abysmal failure. You can’t stop people from drinking alcohol when anyone with half a brain and a willingness to kill brain cells can whip up a batch of gin in their bathtub.

That’s not the right kind of full-bodied flavor, Ethel. You forgot to clean the tub.

If an individual wants to turn their liver into a charcoal briquette, while that’s not in any way commendable, it is somewhat traditional in the US and many other civilized nations. In most Western countries, having a cocktail or seven is a freedom protected by law in order to maintain an acceptable national birthrate.

OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!…

The equality between the sexes of alcohol abuse may or may not become a problem of national proportions in America, however the article reporting on this trend has obviously overlooked another very murky aspect of this issue with even greater significance: Such studies show that women are now competing with men in the area of stupidity.

Facing facts, equal rights between the sexes is wholly an excellent idea, but the exercise of one’s rights is not unlimited, nor should it be. Yes, any adult, male or female, is entitled to
act a fool if they’ve a mind. However, a female’s desire to compete with men should also have reasonable self-enforced limitations.

Sweetheart, what do you use for jock itch?

On the other hand, as adults living in a free country, women are entitled to compete fairly and equally with men in all aspects of our society. Who are we to say that their decision is foolish, not recommended, or banned? Along with alcohol abuse, consider a few other male habits that our females might adopt in the name of equality.

FOOTBALL
Shouldn’t women be entitled to give themselves repeated concussions and bone-breaking injuries on the gridiron? I say, yes. Causing oneself grievous bodily harm and early onset dementia in the pursuit of fame and fortune should not necessarily be a male-only, or even a male-dominated pursuit.

(And succumbing for a moment to my testosterone, I for one am thankful that the
female uniforms …er…uh…require more sunscreen.)

WEIGHTLIFTING
By nature, men have more upper body strength, but this does not preclude women from working their muscles to the bone and competing. It’s a completely unfair, sexist myth that building muscle will make a woman less feminine or less attractive. There are a lot of men who genuinely appreciate a woman who can lift their car into a tight parking space.

Note also, with an approximately equal number of men and women receiving PhDs in chemistry, women should easily have equal access to undetectable steroids.

Book Cover image

“Hilarious!”

TRUE CRIME STORIES
Women with guns have traditionally been pinups at the local redneck garage, however if Hollywood can embrace women as both white and black hats, there’s no reason real life women can’t play the hero or the villain. Granted, we now have many brave women working diligently in law enforcement, but where are the criminals—the truly despicable, sociopathic women running heinously bloody drug cartels, or shooting innocent pedestrians from a clock tower? Statistically, women are way, way, WAY behind as serial murderers, and women will never achieve equality in murderous psychosis unless a lot more sadistic bitches step up.

Conclusion
These recent alcohol studies simply highlight a long hidden problem. If modern women wish to compete with men in foolishness, lunacy, and just plain stupidity, there is no logical justification for our society to exclude them from fair competition. In fact, to emulate the male’s truly reprehensible behavior, and embrace his well-documented, self-destructive habits, alcohol abuse probably helps.

So, ladies, can I buy you a drink?

Parting Funny: I wanted to make it really special on Valentine’s Day, so I tied my boyfriend up. And for three solid hours I watched whatever I wanted on TV.Tracy Smith
 
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Compare This!


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Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

CRAFT
 
 

Let’s agree that comparisons are indeed a basic literary device, but that’s exactly why they are so often overlooked.

Humorist have, or certainly should develop, a knack for comparing things to… Well, damn near anything. And that’s the point. The average fiction writer strives for comparisons that are novel, emotionally evocative, or impressive to literary critics. (Although frankly, if a literary critic is nitpicking individual similes, he\she needs their dosage adjusted.)

The sunset used a palette that left mortal artists found wanting.

Comparisons for a humorist have no such limitations. Or, any limitations.

LSD invented: 1938. The Wizard of Oz flying monkeys: 1939.

To Compare or Not to Compare
It’s true, comparisons can be considered trite, and there are some fairly good arguments supporting that belief. However, comparisons can also be very effective, which is why they have survived as a literary device, and as jokes. If a comparison is trite, it’s not the fault of the device, but the writer.

Ooh, that hurts!

The problem with comparisons is that, although they offer a fabulous opportunity to stretch one’s imagination, many humorists—particularly beginners—bypass the opportunity or settle for the patently obvious. On the other hand, stretching one’s imagination—really pushing the envelope—when using a comparison offers your audience exactly what they’re looking for: a great laugh.

Ah yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet. – Robin Williams

Simile Smiles
The simile is in its simplest, purest, and totally unadulterated form: this is like that.

She welcomed me like E. coli in the mayonnaise.

Or, one of my personal favorites from Judy Rose’s post, The 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers):

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

A true artiste that one!

The lowly simile is probably the first comparison that most us learned in grade school English class. Used well, it is also the most effective. With no exaggeration, millions of jokes are based on similes. The funniest, by far, are those where the writer refused to settle for his first idea and kept pushing until he had a great gag tickling hell out of his audience.

TOP SECRET Humor Formula #7826: Pushing your imagination is not time consuming after a modest bit of practice. It quite easily becomes second nature, and the speed with which you will be able to formulate a great gag regularly increases.

Metaphor, My Love
A metaphor is a hidden comparison not using like or as. However, it’s the same soup, just a different flavor.

All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players.
– William Shakespeare

Olde Will could certainly turn a phrase, and he was screaming funny at times, even in his tragedies. Of course, there’s still plenty of humor fodder in more modern views:

Obstetricians aren’t real doctors; not once did mine say, ‘This won’t hurt a bit.’

Oh, So Familiar Analogy
An analogy explains something unfamiliar by comparing it to something familiar, which is particularly useful in topical humor when something esoteric makes headlines.

Scientist have discovered that electrons are spherical. If an electron was the size of the solar system, any imperfection would be less than the width of a human hair or the dust that your mother-in-law can see on your countertop.

Allegory
Welcome to George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Cover image: "Sexual Evolution"Allegory uses symbols and symbolism to compare people, things or even all of society to abstract ideas or events. As allegories are generally longer works, I’ll skip posting an example, but you can find a list of popular allegorical books at Goodreads. Note, longer forms are not immune to humor. The theme, entire plots, and bits and pieces of any book can be both humorous and allegorical.

Conclusion
Comparative literary devices are practically straight-lines for humorists. And for those humorists with lots of imagination and no fear, one final comparison: Use them like you know what you’re doing.

Parting Funny: The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.Ann Bancroft
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The Weenies Are Winning America

Author’s Note: I’m back. Naturally, there is an entirely rational explanation for my long absence, and fortunately, I have the maturity to keep it to myself. Let’s start off with a rant that I recently shared with Goodreads’ The Humour Club:


Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

JUST FOR FUN
 
 

A recent Washington Post article entitled, People are so stressed by this election that the American Psychological Association has coping tips, brings to light a disturbing trend in America’s social consciousness: We are losing our toughness.

It’s unfortunate, but true.

How can anyone rational be stressed by a presidential election just because the candidates are unquestionably defective? Let’s face reality, the candidates are always defective! (Some significantly more defective and groping than others.) I’m not stressed by this at all. In fact, I am fully cognizant of the fact that just to enter into the political arena a person must have a screw loose and be as ethically-challenged as a pickpocket after milk money in a daycare center.

On the other hand, if politicians aren’t carrying any baggage, they’ve never done a damn thing. No one in politics accomplishes anything without making enemies, making mistakes, and screwing taxpayers. That’s the job!

Granted, blatant criminal behavior is not in the job description, but then neither was Climate Change denial, and we should just thank our lucky stars that planet Earth does not wear a short skirt and a clingy top.

Understanding even a little about politics in general, how can anyone claim that America’s Standard Political Modus Operandi causes stress?

It’s because we are turning into a nation of weenies.

The American Psychological Association can find “weenie” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It’s listed under Miscellaneous Disorders between ‘Fear of a stubbed toe’ and ‘Skinned-knee phobias.’

Today, American college students want a “safe space” to avoid opinions that offend them. American women want equal rights and freedoms without having to emulate Mary McCauley in a hot combat zone. Men want girlfriends without having to grovel. I tell you the weenies are winning in America!

Now, I’m no Chuck Norris, but I don’t hide in a “safe space” when someone disagrees with me, or expresses an opinion that I believe deserves to be flushed forthwith. I can also claim that, in my younger days, I did serve in the military and I have walked through active combat zones. While I readily admit my knees were knocking, there was nothing wrong with my spine.

Perhaps, that’s the key. “Safe space” must be a euphamism for undiagnosed spine damage.

Wait.

That’s probably covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Let me think…

Okay, since I don’t want to be prosecuted and end up in federal prison, it appears that I’m forced to relent. Ergo, let election stress abound. Let the entire population seek coping tips and hide ignobly in a safe space. Let the weenies win.

Anybody know the lyrics to O Canada.

Parting Funny: I like how we say “vegan” now instead of “eating disorder”.Alex Baze

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Mad Skills Ain’t Crazy


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Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

Everyone develops skill sets. We learn; we practice, and even after we’ve mastered a particular skill, we exercise to keep ourselves sharp.

If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.
– Jascha Heifetz, World-renowned Violinist

Comedy writing is a skill.
Writers are constantly developing. They read voraciously. They attend courses and seminars, and collect new ideas on scraps of paper and in notebooks. They have the discipline to keep their butt in the chair, pounding a keyboard, hour after hour, day after day. Yet, for some strange reason, most writers fail to recognize two important aspects of their lifestyle:

1. Your wide butt is not due to middle age.
2. Adding a touch of humor to your writing requires practice.
 

Focus is not required.
It’s irrational for a writer to focus a lot of time and energy on any genre but their own.

Let’s do a simple calculation based on a 5-day workweek. If you were to spend one hour a day on developing your humor skills, that’s 5 hours a week. That adds up to 260 hours a year.

Now, if you only work 40 hours a week. (Right!)

260 / 40 = 6.5 weeks a year practicing humor writing.

Six and a half weeks each year focused on a genre not your own! That’s crazy!

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you. – Rita Mae Brown

Solution #1
It’s a stretch, but let’s assume that you’re not crazy. You are going to focus your time and energy on your primary genre. So, how can you get in a bit of guilt-free daily practice writing humor?

First, create your own small opportunities. You know your daily routine. Examine it.

  • How many emails do you write?
  • Do you regularly leave notes for other members of your household?
  • Do you regularly chat with friends and neighbors?
  • Consider all non-critical tasks that lend themselves to a bit of fun?

Example A: When emailing friends, change your signature daily.

Monday
Jay Cole
Stud Extraordinaire [By Appointment Only]
 
Tuesday
Jay Cole
Weightwatchers’ Failed Experiment
 
Wednesday
Jay Cole
Recovering According to My Therapist
 
Thursday
Jay Cole
President, Society for the Blind Drunk
 
Friday
Jay Cole
Finally Learned the Macarena
 

Will you get a laugh from your friends every day? Not likely, but you may get a smile. That’s a nice compliment.

Fortunately, my ego accepts all offered praise, no matter how cheap.

Example B: Add extra items to the shopping list that you hand to your spouse:

  • Milk
  • Ketchup
  • Enough Reese’s Pieces to Attract ET

By deliberately sprinkling bits of humor throughout the day, you’re not giving up large blocks of time. You’re writing a dozen or more jokes that require just a few seconds apiece, painlessly developing your humor-muscle memory.

Solution #2
Social media has a huge advantage. Here it is:

🙂

You can attempt a one-liner on nearly any topic and follow up with an ‘I’m just kidding’ smiley face. Since you’re more than likely going to be checking your favorite forums anyway, use this as an opportunity to practice.

Caveat: Avoid commenting on irrational or fanatical posts unless you’re looking for a new stalker.

Book Cover image

“Hilarious!”

Example C: I came across a posting from a young lady who blasted her exes, her “fake-ass friends” and anyone who didn’t like her. She literally railed everyone on her list. She wasn’t a nut; she’d just hit her limit on this particular day and apparently needed to vent. Now, I am not offended by the use of expletives. They can be handy on occasion. However, when repeating
“Fuck You!” is your entire message, what’s an appropriate response for this young lady:

Well, every Charm School needs a valedictorian. 🙂

Backlash—NONE. My response was intended and accepted as fun, and hopefully picked up her day. I also managed a bit of humor writing exercise. It was win-win.

Daily, look for little opportunities to exercise your humor writing skills. Lots of them. It’s fast; it’s easy, and it’s great fun.

Parting Funny: I remember the last thing my nan said to me before she died. ‘What are you doing here with that hammer?’Lee Mack
 
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To Write Funny, Read Funny


Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

Humorists read a lot of humor.

Why?
Okay, I admit it, humorists enjoy laughter more than Christmas dinner with mom hiring someone who can cook. More than having their teenage son begin the Superfund cleanup of his room. And more than, dare I say it, free Ghirardelli chocolate!

I know. You’re waiting for me to say that they enjoy laughter more than sex, but I don’t know any comedy writers who are that stupid.

Step Two: Analysis
Humorists also read to analyze.

This is where you likely expect to learn my Top Secret, magical analysis formula—steps, 1, 2, 3, and a nice How To that is similar to How To Rebuild a Carburetor or How To Make A Bundle Selling Your Ex’s Internal Organs.

However, we’re not going to start a crash course on the linguistics of humor, or some such nonsense. There are so many variations in what we perceive as funny that one has to expect nearly anything. Ergo, analysis has to be very flexible, i.e. simply get a feel for what made you laugh, and what makes other people laugh.

Exposure To Variety
I know, it’s difficult to believe, but your sense of humor is not the only one causing the world to laugh. Exposing yourself to humor in all its myriad forms is critical. Not critical like a heart attack, but critical in the sense of gaining understanding.

Is this funny?—How would I know, it’s your mirror.

The tremendous variety of humor available on today’s market allows readers to always find something to their taste. Writers needs exposure for an entirely different reason, to appeal to taste—any taste—on demand, whenever they desire.

Analogy #353
Picture yourself as a successful standup comedian. You have a vault filled with killer jokes, and most of them are committed to memory. Now, you get a last minute gig, and decide to take it, working on the fly. To prep while en route, you buff up your material on marriage, raising kids and paying taxes.

Oops!

When you arrive at the gig, you look out at the audience and the club is packed with college kids, who likely aren’t married, don’t have kids, and their parents are still paying the taxes. It’s unlikely that this audience will identify with your prepared jokes. What do you do?

Panic? Sure, why not. Apoplexy has its uses.

Then again, you can be professional and dig into your repertoire of jokes on drinking, dating, and social media, and give your audience a great show.

Read To Write for Everybody, Or Cheap Analysis Works Just Fine
Analysis doesn’t have to be the equivalent of measuring every molecule in a chem lab. You simply need to look at what the writer did to realize, “I can do that.”

With a little understanding, you can appeal to any demographic or sense of humor. If you think about it, this is no different from analyzing other writing. Plot, character, and sentence structure are no great mystery if you just take a moment to break it down. Humor is no different. How someone made you (or not you) laugh is not a magic show; it’s craft. Ergo, you can examine it just like you would any other aspect of the craft of writing.

I’ve studied all the great inspirational works of mankind.
My favorite is still, “The Little Engine That Could”.

Read Everything
I highly recommend regularly reading books by great humorists. They’re enjoyable, insightful, and they expand our view of reality. When a talented author makes you or those around you laugh, stop for just a moment… Ask, how did he\she do that?

You’ll be truly amazed at what you can teach yourself.

Parting Funny: How many of you ever started dating someone because you were too lazy to commit suicide?Judy Tenuta

Next Up: My Mentor: All the World’s Clowns

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Humor, Humor, Everywhere

Jay Cole image

Humor is our most enjoyable form of truth.

NOTE: This introduction will be pinned to the top for a month or so to allow people to get a feel for the what, where, why, when and how of this blog. Scroll down or select from the menu to the right for the latest posts. Many thanks!
 

There are great, new, talented, often prolific authors keeping the humorous novel alive. Further, there are authors in many other genres with no fear of allowing their droll, dry, dark, or just plain wicked wit to sneak onto the page, whereupon it will jump up and slap the reader’s funny bone. Humor is absolutely alive and well.

Yes, this is a new blog.

I vigorously studied many varied, usually self-proclaimed blog guru’s opinions before making this attempt. They all recommended that I find a niche topic with certain characteristics:

  1. I should know my subject well.
  2. I should be comfortable talking about it.
  3. I should have something worthwhile to offer my readers.
  4. I should sober up before posting.

Well, I took their advice to heart and contemplated my limited list of talents. What could I offer my readers that would be so valuable that they would listen to me sober? Realistically, and somewhat immodestly, the only thing I do well is write humor and comedy.

Wait a minute!

Humor belongs in every writer’s toolbox.

Ancient archers did not pull one of their best arrows out of their quiver and throw it away before going into battle. Every writer should have the ability to add a bit of humor to the odd character, the offbeat story, the terribly tedious How To, or anything else that he\she might care to write. Humor is as vital to the craft of creative writing as nouns, verbs and adjectives.

So, let’s talk about it.

What to Expect

I’m open to just about any suggestion, but for starters, I’ll discuss the craft of humor writing, reviews of humorous novels and stories, seamlessly blending humor into other genres, and just about anything else I can think of that will be useful when writing humor and comedy. I also won’t be above passing on a great joke if it’s deserving, and I’ll do my best to properly attribute them to the original author or performer. (I do so hate when someone, besides me, steals a great line.)

I also hope to lead you to new humorists who are deserving of a look and a laugh.

We’ll discuss any future additions\plans\changes along the way. I have no fear of change; it’s usually all I have left at the end of the week.

That’s generally called a ‘groaner’. We’ll discuss that, too.

Not so much a How To as a How Everybody

Humor and comedy is truly universally applicable. It has jumped onto the pages of fiction and non-fiction alike. It graces the Sunday sermon and lightens up the serious political speech. It tickles children and pushes a walker at the rest home. There really is room for everybody, whether you write professionally or just send off the occasional email. It’s come one, come all—laughter awaits.

Above all, I’d like this to be a discussion, so sharpen your pen, dust off your keyboard, and drag your wicked wit out of the closet. Humor is always best when shared.

This is where I should inject a nice platitude about success being a journey and not a destination, but I lost that little slip of paper from my fortune cookie, so I’ll just ask you to turn to the next blog and we’ll get started.

Parting Funny: “I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog.” – Wendy Liebman

Next Up: Repeat After Me, I’m Funny