Writing Humor

A Dingo Ate My Baby Ruth

Dark screen. A long pause and then we hear soft human cries and moans and sniffles; the black air filled with sadness. Within seconds a deep male voice commands attention over the darkness: “Per istam sanctam unctionem…” and the lights go up to show we’re in the bedroom of a well maintained house, crowded with mourners.

The camera pans the room, showing close ups of distraught faces. Women and men of all ages weep or stand speechless, full of grief, left with nothing more to say.

Quickly the camera zooms in on framed photos of a family and their dog or just photos of the dog. The camera pulls back to reveal the same dog, now lifeless, in the middle of a king-sized bed. A young girl sits alongside Dexter, for that is the dog’s name, and strokes it affectionately.

The male human voice comes from Father Hannah, local pastor and long-time family friend, who continues giving Dexter the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick with Last Rites: “… et suam piissimam misericordiam adiuvet te dominus gratia spiritus sancti, ut a peccatis liberatum te salvet atque propitius alleviet.” An altar boy swings a thurible, an incense burner suspended from chains. Several people make the sign of the cross as a line forms and mourners approach Dexter, touch his paws for one last time, kiss his forehead or his long nose.

A young boy pushes his way through the crowd to see what’s going on. In one hand he holds a half-eaten burger. Another young boy next to him turns, points to the burger, and asks: “What’s that?” The first young boy replies: “Bacon burger.” “Smells yummy,” says the second boy. “It is. Want a bite?”

Suddenly, Dexter’s head snaps up.  He sniffs the air several times and looks over in the direction of the kid with the burger.  He begins to drool.

An elderly woman in the room clutching rosary beads looks to the ceiling and shouts: “It’s a miracle!”

No. It’s bacon.

I wanted to open with that scene for two reasons. The first is to show how, for many of us, our dogs are family and our love for them is unconditional. The second is to acknowledge that when it comes to bacon, the canine species is all in. So am I.

[to be continued]

Dumpster Diving in Storage Boxes, Scene 1

I took time out this morning from my regular job of wearing a spandex bodysuit, fighting comic book villains named after Welsh towns and making the world safe for pinot gris. Instead of the usual BLAM-BONK-KAPOW, I decided to clean up my office. Never a good idea. Among the dust and detritus, however, I found a few old cartoons of mine, in a format commonly known as tear sheets.

The first one I’m posting today is a cartoon I created on a Macintosh computer, back in the day. Not many cartoonists were using Macs to create their gag cartoons, back in the day. This was before the availability of a stylus pen, which is why I like to say it was back in the day; I drew the cartoons in a software package called SuperPaint and used a semi-responsive mouse. Truth be told, it was like drawing with a bar of soap. The below cartoon was published on the cover of a national Macintosh magazine… Mac_Clothes The second one I’m posting today is a cartoon I created for a technical writing journal. I worked as a tech writer for several years and then a documentation manager, before crossing over to the dark side of marketing (bahahaha!)… MuseofTechWriting For the life of me or someone else, I can’t recall where this third cartoon I’m posting today was published. I wanted to include it because the gag is a wretched pun and the chimp looks like he’s just finished his seventh cup of strong coffee–either that or he is struggling to remember his password… Micro

The Real List of Adrian Messenger (if he had a sense of humor)

Here are a few–well, fifty–of my favorite writers who traffic in the craft of humor, in alphabetical order by first name: Alan Bennett, Andrew Bergman, Andy Borowitz, Art Buchwald, Billy Wilder, Bruce Jay Friedman, Calvin Trillin, Carl Hiaasen, Charles Portis, Craig Wright, Dave Barry, David Ives, David Sedaris, Dorothy Parker, Douglas Adams, Dr. Seuss, Elaine May, Elmore Leonard, Flannery O’Connor, George Carlin, H.L. Mencken, Ian Frazier, James Thurber, Jean Shepherd, Ken Ludwig, Kurt Vonnegut, Lewis Caroll, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel, Mark Twain, Mel Brooks, Michael Frayn, Moliere, Molly Ivins, Neil Simon, Nora Ephron, O. Henry, Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, Ring Lardner, Robert Benchley, Roy Blount Jr., S.J. Perelman, Stanley Elkin, Stephen Leacock, Steve Martin, T.C. Boyle, Theresa Rebeck, Walt Kelly, William Shakespeare, and Woody Allen.

What’s your list of humor writers look like?

 

 

Cartoon #11

My friend and fellow cartoonist David Boxerman and I created the weekly cartoon panel “The New Epicureans.” I did all the drawing and we shared the gag writing. David had the much harder task of marketing our cartoons. Here’s the first cartoon in the series, even before any of them were published. It was one of the cartoons we used to sell the panel to editors. When the San Jose Mercury News picked up the panel, where it eventually ran for five years, the editor we worked with thought I needed to give the characters “nose jobs” because their audience was more sophisticated. About three years into the panel, we ran a caption contest. The newspaper received more than 500 entries, as I recall. After viewing the caption entries, the editor told us he was wrong about his readership and we could go back to using the big nose look. We didn’t. The below example was one of the few in the series to use the big nose style. I’ll share more cartoons from The New Epicureans in future blog posts.

NewEpicureans_FirstCartoon