You Think You're a Comedian? Do Something Funny!

Whose line is it anyway? TV show poster image with cast of show
Looking back, showing up for the photo shoot with
a hat on was probably the reason I didn't make the cast. 
Every once in a while I run into people who read my blogs and they say things like, "You should do anther funny article."  And I try to humor them, but the fact of the matter is, being funny is hard work.  Especially on command.  I get performance anxiety.  But spur of the moment, I can say some real gems: I could be like the fourth guy that guest hosts Whose Line is it Anyway?, who is always okay, but no where near as good as the regulars.  All right, maybe that's too much bravado.  I could be fairly entertaining on public access television at 2:30 am, when somebody else is supplying the material.

Because being funny is all about timing, material, and delivery.  Some subject matters never materialize into humor.  It's hard to think of funny quips about gun violence, especially in light of another shooting in Wisconsin, even though it is a subject matter that desperately needs to be commented on by important people; and BB-gun owners like myself, don't have the right ammo for that conversation.  See, that wasn't funny.  It wasn't even very creative.  A good writer, and a good comedian would never use that material; especially not that delivery.  I'm leaving it there to show how badly a comedian writes when the subject matter is not prone to humor.  Students used to ask this of me all the time.  They expected or demanded a joke when none was relevant or appropriate.

William Sharrar WWII Navy hero Pearl Harbor survivor USS Bagley
William Sharrar, a real
American hero.  Painting
by Margaret Plumb.
Many of today's youth think that it's all fair game.  Anything that happens can and should be scrutinized, criticized, and mocked, hence,  It's sad that we've gotten to this stage. Admittedly, I have made jokes about Hitler and Stalin when teaching 20th century history, because the subject matter is so heavy that it needed comedic breaks; and because that era of history is sadly starting to feel like ancient history--and needs livening up (as a history major that hurt to say).  My grandpa Bill Sharrar, though, is one of the few survivors of Pearl Harbor still living today.  I would never joke about WWII in his presence.  One must use discernment when thinking of a joke's appropriateness.  I remember a student once saying, "Mr. Plumb you haven't said anything funny in like, three days." "Well, kid, I have been lecturing about the Holocaust.  While certain comedians, and South Park, might find this a comedic gem field, I personally find it a professional landmine."  Maybe because I'm 1/32nd Jewish, I still think the Holocaust is one area of history where jokes are not permissible. I'm not saying I haven't laughed at humor related to the Holocaust--just that I felt guilty immediately afterwards, and would never repeat those jokes without looking around and whispering it to a close (non-Jewish) friend.

Laffy Taffy jokes candy packages
LT Joke: Why is this website called
Plumbeddown?  Answer below:
'Cause if it were dumbed down any
further it would be called the stuff
that clogs up the toilet.  
Laughing, though, is a nice way of getting through life.  I'm constantly learning to not take myself so seriously.  While certain subject matters may never translate into knock-knock jokes, my own life is a Laffy Taffy wrapper.  Every time I peel off a layer of my pride, people are snickering.  I've always been privy to self-defecating humor. My blog hits go up every time I do a blog where I make fun of my weight, or my lack of athletic trophies, or my failures at career success.  People like laughing at me. with me.  See how I changed that.  That's a conscious effort, to turn your failures into joys.  I've lost a lot in this life.  I've been screwed (not sexually) by a lot of people in life.  I don't feel like I've been given a fair shot a number of times, and it all gives me the power to say, "I HATE YOU CRUEL WORLD!," or say, "Someday, I will laugh at this!"  And that's empowering.  Someday, I believe, people will want to hear what I have to say in book form, because I am honest with my pain.  And my pain is easy to laugh at.

South Park, Jesus boxing with Satan Season 1
I'm not sure if Jesus laughs at South Park, but I know He
finds humor in torturing me.  Thanks Jesus, I'm learning to
laugh with you.    
Maybe if we all focused on our pain, and laughed at it, this world would be better off.  Laugh at your political candidate.  Whoever he (or she--there is a women running) is.  Watch SNL, (even though it has a democratic slant) and laugh at how your candidate is portrayed.  Laugh about your dwindling retirement.  Laugh about the glorious things you planned on doing once retired, and how now you have to go camping for a vacation instead of to Rome.  Laugh at your religion.  Not its God or gods, but the stupid things its followers do.  Religious folk do some stupid stuff, especially when television cameras show up.  Relax.  It's not corrupting your faith.  Laugh at cancer.  Some of us feel swallowed in by diseases and cancers, and it's the ability to flip it the birdie that makes it tolerable.  Diseases have a mind of their own, the only thing you can do is take your meds, pray, and keep a good attitude--there's a reason they say, laughter is the greatest medicine.  And most importantly, laugh at yourself.  You're human, you're going to make mistakes, and you're going to get shafted (not sexually) many times in life.  Remember that you are loved, and there are people who care about you out there.  Find them, and laugh.

Infectious laughter has been shown to cure all blues.  It raises endorphines, lowers blood pressure, releases tension and stress, and heals old wounds.  Sure, there are certain subject matters that are maybe off limits to your tastes, but remember there is a difference between humor and mockery.  I think once this current  youthful generation realizes this, they will be a hilarious generation.  But for right now, they seem like depressed critics, always ridiculing the abilities of others.  That's insecurity.  And insecurity is a treasure trove of comedic wherewithal.  Tap into your problems, whatever they are, and laugh at them.

This article wasn't very funny.  Articles about humor rarely are.  But this classic link is.  So enjoy and heal.


  1. You are one sixteenth Jewish!!!!

    1. God, God, is that you? Oh, no, you must be Dad. I want to see some genealogical evidence of said Jewishness. No proof? Totally a non-Jewish strategy.

  2. I know that laughing at the dumb things I sometimes do before anyone else laughs makes it all easier. That way, they are truly not laughing AT me. It helps to have a sense of the ridiculous.

    1. I agree Julie.
      As a teacher, I find if I laugh at my mistakes or mis-wording of something, the best practice is to make fun of myself before they have the chance to hold it over my head.

  3. Is it wrong that I love to laugh when I shouldn't? "hahaha...oh wait, are you ok?"

  4. After I read Tina Fey's, Bossy Pants, I wondered where that genre had been my whole life! Tina Fey is probably one of the most outstanding comedians who utilizes self-deprecating humor. Yet, she includes so much poignancy in her stories throughout her life. It's probably not for everybody--if they're squeamish concerning female bodily functions... But it was a great read for me and had me spewing my coffee out at Barnes and Noble on a number of occasions. I'm so excited to read your book in its entirety--because I know your life better than Tina Fey's (at least, I hope I do...) and as presumptuous as it sounds, I'm pretty sure your walk in life has had more poignancy and probably more self-"defecating" humor. :)