How to Not Be Funny

For the few people who read my blog regularly, you may know that I try to be funny. I haven’t blogged a lot lately because I’ve been working on a novel, but my resolution this year was to be more consistent with humorous writing, especially over at my other web site, Dying Is Easy. Comedy Is Hard. One might think that I’d learned a thing or two from my preachings here about learning from my mistakes, but I gave myself another chance to learn. It was one of my more embarrassing literary moments.

I wrote an article last week that I thought was very funny. It was a homage to “Game of Thrones,” the fantasy epic on HBO. I love that show. I love it the way Seth Bullock loved Alma Garrett on the HBO series “Deadwood.” I love that show the way Finn loves Princess Bubblegum on “Adventure Time.” Sometimes love like that skews your judgement.

Love, I have come to learn, messes with your brain. It’s for a good cause, and I don’t regret a minute of it. I forgive myself for any transgressions committed while in love. However, in the case of this article about “Game of Thrones”, what I did is as close to unforgiveable as I care to go.

It was not funny. It was not funny the way M.A.S.H. was not funny after Henry left the show. My article was not funny the way any sitcom starring Tony Danza was not funny after Tony Danza left “Taxi.”┬áMy supposed-to-be-funny article jumped the proverbial shark somewhere around the first sentence and didn’t have the decency to be eaten by the shark.

I write unfunny things all the time, even when I try to be funny. There is no sin in not being funny (if it is a sin then my wife is doomed in the afterlife). My lack of humor could have been forgiven except for the fact that I submitted it to the New Yorker for their section called “Shouts and Murmurs”.

“Shouts and Murmurs” is where Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and David Sedaris publish when they feel like writing something funny. I wanted very much to be like them, and I was convinced that I had truly hit upon something funny. But the rejection letter informed me otherwise. It said: “We don’t feel this piece is appropriate for Shouts and Murmurs. Shouts and Murmurs are supposed to be humorous.”

I get it. That was a joke. A joke at my expense. I didn’t think it was very funny.

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