Culture / Humour / Life / Writing

So You Think That’s Funny?

There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you guys.

No, I’m not actually a man. And it’s a good thing, because I’d be horrible at it.  I don’t know how to fix or install anything and I take way too long to get ready.

Nah. The truth is, I’ve been taking a writing class.

I’ve been thinking about taking a class for a while now, and it was actually my New Year’s resolution for 2012. Realizing that the clock was  running out, I signed up a few weeks ago.

…… and part of me also did it because I thought there was a chance Jason Schwartzman might be teaching it. And that he might fall madly in love with me.

Shocker: he’s not.

The class is specifically targeted at comedy writing; so I guess you could say I’m testing out the age-old question of whether or not you can actually learn to be funny.

I was excited, but also nervous for my first class. I had so many questions… like what should I wear? And could I bring a pad and paper to class, or would that be lame? What if all the other kids brought iPads or MacBooks? Or worse, what if no one else even showed up and just phoned in via Skype … or hologram:

Tupac lives!

Luckily, my fears were assuaged as soon as I walked in the door. There are only about 10 people in the class, and it’s a real mixed bag- from a girl about my age with dreams of being a screenwriter, to drama geeks and aspiring novelists, to a middle-aged man who was recently laid off and now wants to do something totally different with his life. There’s also an older man with a long white beard who may or may not be Santa Claus. And if he is, that’s kind of concerning… because it’s probably getting close to crunch time up there in the North Pole and someone should really be supervising the whole toy-making operation.

Anyway, the first week we did a few ice breakers and spent some time talking about different comedic devices and various  forms of humour. Then our teacher gave us our first assignment: a 3-5 page piece about something funny that happened to us, to be read aloud in class the following week.

I’m not going to lie, I was freaking out a little bit. I distinctly got the impression that my teacher didn’t appreciate my sense of humour after we got into an argument in class about whether anthropomorphism (i.e. animals doing people things) was a legitimate comedic device. I plead my case using this as an example:

“A pircture of a cat baking…..” he asked, confusedly. “And you think that’s funny?”

So, yeah. I didn’t have high hopes my story would be well received. Plus, although I write a lot on my blog, they are mostly shorter pieces that rely on funny gifs and the aforementioned hilarious cat pictures to supplement my bad jokes. This was different. No pictures. No crossout text. Just me.

The other thing about blogging is that after you hit “publish”, you can hide behind your computer screen and never have to face whether people will laugh or not. The worst that can happen is you don’t get a lot of “likes” or “comments”.. but you’ll never have to endure a room full of awful, deafening silence. And that’s what I feared might happen to me.

Or worse, this.

After much stress and anxiety, I pulled together a sort of composite piece about funny Thanksgiving memories in our family and hoped for the best.

I was the last to present, and got to hear everyone else’s stories first. One girl wrote an entire piece about burritos. Another man wrote about his dead Aunt Phyllis. It really ran the gamut.

When it was my turn, I was incredibly nervous and looked down at my paper basically the entire time…but shockingly, people laughed. I’m not going to question why, or if it was out of pity.. all I know is that it felt really good. After the first few chuckles, it got easier, and by the end I realized that I was actually enjoying myself.

Thinking about it afterwards, I realized that with blogging, although you largely eliminate the possibility of rejection, you also miss out on the upside. Hearing people laugh at your jokes feels.. well, really awesome.

I’m not out of the woods yet. This week’s assignment is to write a topical piece about something funny in the news, which might prove more difficult. I wish I could make Seth Meyers magically appear and help me out with this one… and then be my boyfriend.

Can you tell I have a thing for funny guys?

Question of the Day: Have you ever taken a writing class? Do you take any other type of classes?

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27 thoughts on “So You Think That’s Funny?

  1. I’m jealous of this comedy writing class. Such things aren’t offered (to my knowledge) in Halifax. I’m sure it won’t be long before you’re teaching classes of your own! (And for the record, I concur that a cat baking something is hilarious imagery.)

  2. I haven’t taken a writing class yet, but I did take a speech class in college…three times. I dropped that sucker each and every time. I guess it was the lip syncing to Elvis that caught me off guard.

    This class sounds interesting. Looking forward to hearing more about it. And I think you dodged a bullet when it turned out not to be Jason Schwartzman. He seems very creepy to me.

    • Lip syncing to Elvis?? What is the connection there?
      And I can see where you’re coming from on the whole “creep vibe” thing… but I can’t help but love him anyway. Maybe that makes me creepy by default? Who cares!

      • One of the assignments was to lip sync a song in front of the class. Not sure what that has to do with public speaking.

        Yeah, he is very good, at what he does.

  3. Hey, congrats on taking the class! It must be exciting to try out something new and interesting :)

    Nope, I’ve never taken a writing class. But I plan on taking a songwriting course (free online) in a few months!

    • Thank you! It is, except I feel old when I’m on campus on my way to class.. Everyone there is at least 5 years younger than me.. I’m going to have to work on some good outfits that really screm “22″ lol

  4. I’ve never taken a writing class, but when I was still going to school I always hate the peer review process that so often came along with writing papers. Sometimes it works out… but more often than not when other people would give me tips about my writing I would completely disagree. Hey, I’m open to constructive criticism, but at the end of the day, when it comes to my own writing, I think I know best. ;)

    • Thank you! That’s what I keep telling myself… But the thing about challenges I’ve realized is they kind of suck when you are actually doing them.. Tho they feel good afterwards!

  5. I took a creative nonfiction writing class when I was still in college. It was probably one of the best classes I took while I was there. I had an excellent teacher and we read authors like Anne Lamott and David Sedaris in class. Plus, my entire class was genuinely interested in writing? So that helps. :)

    I think you’re funny already. Just because you don’t hear our laughs doesn’t mean they aren’t loud. :)

    Oh by the way, LOVE SETH MEYERS. The SNL with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Weekend Update I laughed until I cried and said, “oh you, why you so funny and adorable?” /sigh

    • Aw thank you. Will you come to my class next week and laugh at my story? Haha and omg I know re: Seth meyers.. Too bad he already has a girlfriend and she’s super hot.. And like a human rights lawyer or something. Sigh.

  6. WOOHOO! Writing class! Holy freaking PRESSURE though. I don’t know if I’d take a class that specific. At least if it’s general writing, being funny would be a bonus. Hilarity is a REQUIREMENT in that one. You are brave, dear girl. Brave.
    I’m taking a children’s writing course right now by correspondence. It’s pretty cool. I get assignments with 6 weeks to do them. Weeee! (I actually hate that there’s so much time between and keep submitting early. My instructor sends feedback within a week.) I’ve done 3, and there are 10 total. Almost there, maybe?

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  8. It’s been like 87 years since I’ve caught up on blogs and life and stuff, but I am belatedly obsessed with this post. A writing class was one of my new years resolutions too! Glad to see yours is going well (from more recent posts). And alsssoooo Seth Meyers (!!) Obviously had to at least acknowledge his presence here.

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