Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And So It Begins...

I used to be funny. Now, I realize that most people think they're funny. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad probably thinks he knocks 'em dead at the U.N. every time he speaks. ("Oh, did I say 'death to the Zionists'?? I meant 'death to the creator of Dancing with the Stars'. Am I right, Zionists?")

But I was actually funny at one point in my life. I knew I had arrived when I made a joke one day a number of years ago, and my brother (who is a truly funny person) laughed and then turned to me with a look of puzzlement on his face and said, "I don't remember you being funny."

Not long after that, I somehow got a job writing humor columns for the university newspaper. The response from the editors and my coworkers and the five readers was overwhelmingly positive. Those columns led to an opportunity to write "humorous forewords" for a college textbook.

I quickly found out that writing a textbook can be a stressful experience. There are strict deadlines that come around very quickly, and some days you just simply don't feel funny. (In fact, this was back when I was going out on a lot of blind dates, so I REALLY didn't feel funny.) But somehow, I was able to meet most of the deadlines and write something funny every once in a while, and the textbook was eventually published.

Then, in a strange twist of fate, I started teaching classes at the university using the textbook containing the forewords I had just written. It was a really satisfying feeling to see the students laugh at something I had created, and I chose to ignore the fact that the most likely scenario was that the students were laughing in hopes of getting an A.

A few years after that, the information in the book was getting outdated and the authors' checking accounts were getting low, so plans were made for a 2nd edition. Once again, they called on me to write the chapter forewords. I was excited to get back in the saddle as I went to work on my first foreword for the new edition. It was then that I said to myself, "I've made a huge mistake," Bluth-style. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't come up with anything. I had completely lost my sense of humor.

Losing your sense of humor is no laughing matter. (Ha!) I racked my brain trying to think of what could possibly have happened during those few short years to completely deprive me of my sense of humor. The only major life event I could identify was that I had gotten married... Pure coincidence, I'm sure. *cough* (Love you, honey!)

But the truth is that marriage may very well have had something to do with it. Back when I was going out on a ton* of dates, I had great material each week... okay, month... okay, fiscal year! Each blind date was a gold mine of stories and jokes that would last me months! Now that I'm happily married, I don't have any horrible stories to tell. (Awwwwwwww... Did I recover from the last paragraph yet?)

So, the only other possibility I can think of is that I am simply out of practice. When we were writing the textbook, I was forced to be funny on a consistent basis. When I had a weekly column, I was writing... well, weekly. I guess humor takes practice just like anything else in life. I probably ought to go practice being funny up and down a narrow darkened church hallway. (Sorry, Michelle! -- I couldn't help myself!)

And so it begins: The quest to get my sense of humor back. I created this blog so I could practice a little bit. You can be the judge of whether I'm improving or not. I won't have the pressure of deadlines, so I'll write when I feel funny. I won't be tied to a certain subject, so I'll write about anything. I can't make any promises about any actual humor being found anywhere on this blog. But with some time, and a little luck, some people will hopefully log on and actually laugh... and those people will undoubtedly be my students.

*(A "ton" in Spencer dating standards is any number greater than once per year.)


  1. Great. Now I've got competition in the family. There can be only one!. . .comedian. . .
    Also, I am SO proud of you for making an Arrested Development reference.

  2. Is this "Bringing Funny Back one year at a time"?