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The Times
  • Frank Talk: Just humor me

  • The weekly humor columnist’s deadline was looming.


    He had exactly 90 minutes left to write something funny.

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  • The weekly humor columnist’s deadline was looming.
    He had exactly 90 minutes left to write something funny.
    He searched his mind frantically for something humorous that had happened to him lately.
    It took a full 10 minutes for him to come to the conclusion that he hadn’t been involved in an amusing incident for at least six months.
    And he’d written about that one.
    He thought to himself, why doesn’t anything funny ever happen to me?
    Why couldn’t I be involved in some silly, embarrassing, pratfall in the last six months?
    Why am I such a dope?
    Now he had 80 minutes left to write something funny.
    How about a funny conversation?
    He thought to himself, who’s talked to me lately and been funny?
    Five minutes later, he had his answer.
    No one.
    I’m surrounded by people who are articulate and insightful and who provide useful information rather than silly repartee.
    I’m surrounded by jerks.
    Now he had 75 minutes left to write something funny.
    How about something humorous in the news?
    Congress?
    They’re not funny. They’re scary.
    Lindsay Lohan?
    No, leave Lindsay alone. The girl’s doing the best she can. She’s under a lot of pressure.
    How about something funny from the past? An amusing childhood incident, perhaps.
    He racked his brain.
    Nothing.
    He’d been writing a weekly humor column for 15 years.
    He’d run out of amusing childhood incidents.
    Damn it, he thought to himself. Why couldn’t I have had a funnier childhood?
    I think it’s because I went to Catholic school.
    The weekly humor columnist had barely 40 minutes left to write something funny.
    How about the cat?
    The cat’s funny, he thought. What has the cat done lately that’s been cute?
    He pondered the cat’s recent behavior.
    Nothing.
    Stupid cat.
    I need a funnier cat.
    Now there was a mere 25 minutes left to write something funny.
    Wait a second, the weekly humor columnist thought.
    Why not write a humor column about having trouble writing something funny under deadline pressure?
    Hmmm …
    But wait, won’t the readers see through that device?
    Nah.
    Well, maybe they will.
    But I’m down to 20 minutes here.
    Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.
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