Adding Humor When You’re Not Funny

Like most of my peers, I went into this project with a little too much confidence. The New Yorker, I thought. It’ll be easy, I thought.

Real Housewives

Wrong. Soooooooo wrong.

Not only do the staff writers for The New Yorker have an insane personal dictionary, they’re also funny. Prior to beginning this project, I wasn’t anticipating having to include humor in my repurposing project. This aspect of the new genre in a new style is both enjoyable and extremely challenging for me. In my opinion, adding comedy (in my case, attempting to add comedy) to a written piece heightens the vulnerability of the writer. Since humor varies from individual to individual, it is increasingly difficult for a writer to ensure that their joke is understood–even more so that it is understood in the way it was intended. What I have noticed as I wrote my draft is that I might think a certain phrase is funny because I tend to have a more sarcastic tone. However, sarcasm is tough to detect in the written form because it requires a certain understanding of context and an awareness of the reader’s background or experience.

The articles themselves are more like short essays. These essays have forced me to adjust my sentence style to a more compound-complex structure. From the articles I have looked as a model, personal experience as well as whimsy are critical to crafting a memorable argument. Each author, while having a unique voice, allows readers to daydream and draw out themes that challenge and excite them.

Each piece also exudes an air of coolness that has been difficult for me to emulate. The diction and sentence structure of each piece appears so effortlessly composed, as if they sat in a coffee shop and cranked out the piece in 30 minutes with minimal error. While I know this probably is not the case, and I definitely won’t be doing that for my final draft, it makes me think about how important it is for a piece to be appear sophisticated and put together even if it was created without a strict plan put in place. A way in which I hope to improve my piece will be through refining my sentence structures and adding words that both reveal my love of language and surprise my readers. However, I do not want my piece to appear as if I spent an hour looking through my thesaurus, picking out difficult sounding words, and then sprinkling them into my project. Each word, like the words used in The New Yorker, must serve an explicit purpose. A balance will need to be struck between making my article chic but not to the point where my reader cannot understand my argument.

Clueless

My goals moving forward will be to get my entire argument and all of my ideas on the page before going in and adding new words. I want to make sure that my argument is solid before I go in and make finishing touches because I think, at the end of the day, a piece is only as successful as the argument it makes. The revision process won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself.

Blog 4: This Isn’t Your Average Mirlyn Catalog Quest

I think it’s safe to say that for most college students, research isn’t the most intriguing thing. Speaking for myself, any way, I 100 percent stand by this claim. When I think of research for my past courses at Michigan, I’m haunted by images of me staring at my laptop screen scrolling through the Mirlyn catalog for what seems like 18+ hours, only to find one or two “scholarly” articles that maybe have a sentence pertaining to my argument or topic at hand-which I usually deem “good enough” (oops.) I’m now wondering aloud if this sounds familiar for anyone else, or if I just need a serious crash course in effective researching? Definitely both, but more than likely, more the latter. REGARDLESS of my own struggles of traditional research, I was pleased to discover that starting the research for my repurposing project was a lot more interesting and I found much greater success than I have in my past research quests.

Drawing from what I plan to do with my repurposing project, one of the sections of my Elite Daily modeled piece (“Life”) generally requires more academic background than other sections of Elite Daily (which require pretty much-none.) I’m focusing this piece on the benefits and drawbacks of using humor to cope, so my initial research started by simply googling “humor and coping” in google scholar and the general search engine. I found several different articles ranging from Psychology Today to articles written in the PyscINFO database at the University of Michigan. Most of these articles talked about the benefits of using humor, but where they led me is what made me rethink the original layout of this piece. I was led to various popular publications such as TIME, Forbes and People, all of which talked about various entertainment figures and how their use of comedy/ humor in their live’s have come with drawbacks.

Based off the wealth of both academic and popular culture background I was able to extract on the subject, I’ve decided to model this piece as a numbered PRO and CON list of using humor as a coping mechanism. Based on academic research, experience of respected entertainment figures and my own dependency on humor as it has both helped and hindered me,  I feel like I have a lot to draw from in the creation and legitimizing of my piece. That being said, I may consider breaking the piece up into two different parts (1 piece= the pros and 1 piece= the cons) of using humor to cope. There’s a lot I’ve found on the topic, and I feel like I have a lot to say. It might be more effective and cohesive with the Elite Daily style to break it up, so it doesn’t appear so obtuse and long-winded.

Looking at my other piece, The Five Types of Funny-Guys You’ll Date in Your Lifetime I’m excited to use my own experience as well as the experience of others to create something that is hopefully super relatable for most women. I wonder if I’ll be able to get enough input/ dating stories from other women to make sure it’s as relatable as it can be, but I’m excited to see where my conversations on the topic go with my friends, peers and family.

Courtesy of quotesgram.com
Courtesy of quotesgram.com

Repurposing Humor

When deciding what paper to use for my repurposing project, I struggled a bit. Naturally, my first thought was to repurpose one of my papers from the 5 Communications courses I’ve taken since coming to Michigan. However, most of those papers were solely made up of my analyzation of different pieces of media, and none of them were interesting enough for me to pursue for an entire semester. I finally decided to repurpose a paper from one of my favorite courses I’ve taken at Michigan, it was my freshman year seminar entitled, “Language and Humor.” The paper I chose to repurpose focused around the comedy in being overweight, but for the purpose of my project I’ve decided to examine humor more broadly. While my original piece focused on factors (weight) and how that influenced the effect of humor, my repurposing project will focus on how humor influences different parts of my generation’s life.

In examining different genres discussing my topic, I focus on two very different publications. The first being a respected magazine, TIME and the second being what I plan on modeling my repurposing project after, the millennial-focused, blogging-style, digital publication: Elite Daily. Both of these drastically different genres have pieces that discuss my topic of interest in very different ways. Looking first to the TIME magazine article entitled, “Why the Funniest People Are Sometimes the Saddest” the article profiles the struggles of Robin Williams, and it discusses the darkness he dealt with, and how that darkness made him a great comedian. This article was published right after his death, and it’s exigence is pretty clear in that it was the perfect way to explain to the public why it would seem that someone so “happy” could do something so dark and depressing. The article itself isn’t confusing or condescending. It doesn’t use fancy psychological terms, or address things most people wouldn’t understand. It’s very digestible, and seems like it genuinely wants to try to address how comedy comes from darkness, thus providing some explanation for Williams’s actions. That being said, the audience is far-reaching and pretty general, it could be anyone from the age of 12-70+ who wants to understand more about the psychology of comedians or who was perhaps a fan of Williams.

Courtesy of giphy.com

Looking at a drastically different genre, Elite Daily published an article entitled, “9 Reasons Why You Should Date a Girl Who Makes You Laugh.” The article provides a listicle of 9 reasons, based off of the experience and opinion of the author, of which he describes why men should date girls who make them laugh. This type of genre is much different from the TIME profile in that it includes the author’s experience, so the author’s voice is entirely present. The exigence for this article is based off of the idea that this publication was created as they refer to themselves, “the voice for generation Y.” It provides a spot for millenials to better understand themselves. In order to understand aspects of dating life, this article gives the targeted audience a perfect way to relate and further understand their wants and needs in relationships.

After looking at these two drastically different publications, I’ve realized that I can go a couple of routes with my repurposing project. That being said, I’ve chosen to go with Elite Daily, but the way I’ve chosen to do it encompasses more than just listicles based off of my personal experience. I’ve decided to compose articles based off of the site, but for two different sections, “Life” and “Dating.” In the “Life” section, many of the articles address issues that require research and background, while in the “Dating” section, it’s mostly personal experience and experience of others in the author’s life. Because I’ve decided to write pieces dealing with humor for both sections, I feel I’ll be able to paint a more comprehensive view of the Elite Daily publication, as well as examine humor from both the psychological perspective and the more personal perspective.

 

Steve Martin-I promise this will not fail to entertain you

Hi all,

So here is a link to Steve Martin’s essay from the New York Times titled “The Third Millennium: So Far, So Good.”

It’s quick, hilarious, and in a few pages attempts to use sarcasm and humor to completely tear down all of the greatest accomplishments of humankind up to the year 2000; reducing theories of art, philosophy, war, communication, and relationships to pieces of minutia while simultaneously asserting that Steve Martin is the sole voice of the nation and world at large.

Enjoy!

Amy