Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Give Me Your Words, Your Views, Your Huddled Masses of Humor": a Contest

I love words. Some of my favorites are superfluous, gorgeous, seize, pugnacious, nostalgia, genre, dynamic . . .

The list is endless.

What I really appreciate is how words are put together to create humor. And I not referring to the comedians who are (were) writers such as Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, George Carlin, but those writers who infuse humor as engaging detail. Some of my favorites are David Sedaris, Chuck Palaniuk, J.D. Salinger, and Nelson Desmille.

There are so many ways to create humor rhetorically: satire, metaphors, imagery.  Hell, even a single word can create humor: the word chicken cracks me up.  So do the words naked and shit.  Kumquat, that's a good one too. Scamper will always make me smile.

Put them together--Naked, I scampered onto the front lawn to snatch up the chicken before he could shit -- and that's funny! Even if you don't find the diction humorous, the image certainly qualifies.

I have always been the "funny one" of a group. I'd rather be the "sexy one" or "the rich one," but since I have a penchant for being friends with smoking-hot women, I am stuck with the role of being entertaining. And I have to say that I am usually successful. But it's time for me to give credit where credit is due. My humor was passed down to me from one of funniest people I know: my father.

He's not a writer; he's an engineer. But, he is a master of humorous rhetoric. As my mother says to him often: "How do you come up with this shit?"

Nobody knows. But, we certainly enjoy. Well, most of us. Those who have been blessed with one of his infamous nicknames might feel otherwise. My father has assigned such names as Hairball, Lactose Intolerant, Hockey Puck, and Studebaker to my sister and my past boyfriends. And he doesn't distribute them arbitrarily; they are tailor created for the person.

My father's humor is constructed in one of two ways: diction choice and imagery. Here are two examples:

While at my parents' house one afternoon, my mother mentioned she had to get something for me out of her bedroom and that she'd be "right back." Well after about a half hour, I said to Dad, "Wonder what happened to Mom?"

His response: "Maybe your mother tripped on a dust bunny and broke her arm."

I laughed so hard, tears were rolling down my face by the time my mother returned.  Not because I thought the idea of her getting hurt was funny, but because of the image. The specific diction made it easy to picture and the randomness made it funny.

Not only is my father great at creating imagery, he can work magic with alliteration (and consonance). One of my favorite "Dadisms" is "monkey fuck a football."  He doesn't use it as a sentence, but as a noun or adjective. Grammatically, it should be punctuated as "monkey-fuck-a-football." It means an awkward or an uncoordinated act. Synonymous with slapstick.

Here's an example for how it is used:

Yesterday, my sister, her husband, and I were assisting my parents in moving a daybed from my aunt's place to theirs. My aunt lives in a condo on the fourth floor of a complex. When my sister arrived, the code to open the door wasn't working for her so I went down to let her in. The elevator in the building is old and rickety (and I don't like elevators anyway) so I always take the stairs. By the time I reached the lobby, I heard the elevator doors closing and saw that my sister was no longer standing outside. With a huff, I turned around to climb back up the stairs. Just before I reached the fourth floor, my sister jerked open the stairway door and, "Holly, I'm here."

I said, "Jesus, this is like monkey-fuck-a-football."

Unfortunately, my father cannot produce his rhetorical genius on command, and even if he could, I doubt I could use it for what I need it for. This is where you, my followers, come in.

To begin the new school year on August 31st, I want to ease my students into the beauty of language. Instead of spending the first few days going over class procedure, homework policy, how they will be graded, and basically scaring the shit out of them, I have decided to play a little word game. Show them that English is fun! I've got the logistics of the game all worked out; what I need are the game pieces, aka, words. More specifically, sentences.

You've enjoyed my humor long enough, now I want you to reciprocate.  Before, I wanted your dirty minds; now, I want your silly minds.

Contest: who can come up with the most clever sentence that a teenager would find humorous? Edgy is okay, but it does need to be classroom appropriate so tone down the profanity and nothing pornographic, please. The sentences must be created by you: no quotes from movies or books (unless you wrote the book).

How to enter:

1) If you aren't already following me, please do so. I will not consider sentences from non-followers. Don't know how to do that? Read "Attention All Creepers" post.

2) Type up your sentence as a comment.

3) You can enter as many sentences as you want.

I will select five winners who will have their choice of prizes. For winners who are writers, I will do something to help promote their writing: buy something online, put a copy of their work in my classroom library, or write a review for a poem or short story. For winners who are not writers, I will send you a Starbucks or Amazon GC.

Entry deadline is August 29th, which is my father's birthday.

1 comment:

  1. Since monkey-fuck-a-football is taken, I'll need some time to come up with something.


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