Monday, September 1, 2014
Sunday, August 31, 2014
To read a previous bit in this series, click here.
I’m a heathen. Are there any other heathens here tonight? Wow, a lot of heathens. I was raised Presbyterian. My moms says I should go to church for the community aspect. So people will be there for me if someone close to me dies or something, but I say if people want to help, they’ll do it whether I go to church or not, and if they don’t I don’t want to eat their fucking casserole anyway.
What? What’d I say? Jeez, I didn’t know religion was such a touchy subject. I guess I didn’t get that memo. I feel like you guys are against me now. Who would have thought insulting a mob of people could go wrong somehow?
I feel like the guy in the old west that the posse was after.
“Zeke, the posse’s here. They got us surrounded!”
Zeke: Don’t worry, Earl. I’ll take care of this.
Zeke walks outside.
Zeke: (Yelling) Hey! You guys are all assholes! What? Hey, why is everybody shooting at me?
It reminds me of this thing that happened the other day. I was at my day job because, for some reason my stand-up career isn’t paying the bills, and my boss comes up and starts yelling at me. I can’t remember what it was about. Like, maybe I left a machine on, or I left someone in the machine, or I let the machine eat someone. I can’t remember. But anyway my boss was really mad at me, so I’m like, “Wait a second. Are you hitting on me?”
This brought an immediate halt to the string of invectives he was screaming at me. I didn’t want him to have time to think of a response, so I said, “Listen. I’m flattered, really, but I’m not into quote unquote “people.”
Naturally, my boss was pretty stunned. He had this quizzical look on his face, and it was pretty easy then to shift the topic of conversation because he was like, “Wait. What?”
I knew I had him then. I said, “You know how some women talk about giving up their flower? Well, it turns out they are actually just talking about their gross vaginas.
I, on the other hand, enjoy the company of actual flowers. They make my penis smell all rosy. Unless of course they’re violets, in which case they make it smell violet-y.
At this point, my boss completely forgot why he was yelling at me.
At this point, my boss completely forgot why he was yelling at me.
You know, I don’t get you people. You act like you’ve never heard a guy talking about having sex with flowers or something. What’s the big deal? Did I stumble into a convention of florists?
What the fuck is wrong with fucking flowers? Hey, that sounds like a pretty good chant.
(Leading chant) I say flower, you say fucker. Flower!
All the florists now: We don’t fucking need no fucking flower fuckers!
We don’t fucking need no fucking flower fuckers!
Thank you! I love you all. I’m off flowers. I’m into crowds now. (thrusting hips) That’s for this side. (another hip thrust) That’s for all of you in the middle area. (again) That’s an extra one for you in the brown shirt. (Pivot and thrust left) That one’s for the rest of you. Good night, everybody!
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I WOULD START IN THE TRADITIONAL MANNER.
I must be getting old. This morning I threw my back out while I was yawning.
NEXT, I REENACT THE EVENT, BUT IN DOING SO, I THROW OUT MY BACK AGAIN.
Uh oh. I did it again.
(I LEAN TO ONE SIDE WITH ONE SHOULDER HIGHER THAN THE OTHER. I CAN’T MOVE MY NECK. I’M LIKE IGOR FROM FRANKENSTEIN.
Oh well. That’s it. Good night, Everybody.
I START TO EXIT STAGE LEFT, BUT STOP WHEN I SEE AN IMAGINARY PERSON OFFSTAGE.
I know I still have five minutes left, but I can’t do it. I’m injured.
But... But... You’re not even paying me.
It’s a free country. I don’t have to...
I do have to?
I TURN BACK TO THE AUDIENCE, OBVIOUSLY STILL IN PAIN. I GLANCE BACK AT THE IMAGINARY PERSON OFFSTAGE.
You want me to dance? I don’t think I can do that. I’m not even a good dancer under regular circumstances.
(PAUSE WHILE LOOKING OFFSTAGE.) I BEGIN TO DANCE. WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY, STILL HOLDING MY DISTORTED POSE, I SWING MY ARMS AND KICK MY FEET LIKE A TAP DANCER.)
(TO IMAGINARY PERSON OFFSTAGE) I don’t know how long I can do this.
(TO ANOTHER IMAGINARY PERSON TO MY RIGHT) What’s that? I don’t have to keep dancing if I don’t want to.
I STOP DANCING.
The person offstage isn’t real?
I LOOK OFFSTAGE AND THEN BACK TO MY RIGHT.
You mean, not only is there something wrong with my back, there is something is wrong with my head as well?
I should see a doctor?
Oh, you are a doctor. What kind of...?
Oh, a urologist. I see.
Say, while I’ve got you here, could you take a look at something for me?
I TURN MY BACK TO THE AUDIENCE WHILE UNBUCKLING MY BELT. IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT I AM LETTING THE IMAGINARY UROLOGIST LOOK DOWN THE FRONT OF MY PANTS.
What do you mean you don’t see anything? (POINTING) It’s right there!
I know it’s a penus. What’s that on the side there?
(SHAKING HEAD) No, I don’t think it is funny. This isn’t a joking matter.
Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Maybe if I don’t think about it, it will go away.
Well, I think I need a second opinion.
I don’t think I should have to give you a $45 copay. I don’t even have insurance.
What do you mean, then the price goes up to $1500? You didn’t do anything.
No, I don’t think you stand around all day giving free penus exams, but...
Well, some people would.
Yes they would. They might even pay me for the privilege. Some anyway.
No, I don’t want to look at yours.
Yes it is fair. Wait, are you even a doctor?
You’re a... You’re a Love Doctor. You know what? I think my time is up. Goodnight Everybody.
I LURCH OFFSTAGE.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Today we examine the steps necessary for creating a humor story. Over the course of this post, we will in fact create a humor story. Notice we said “humor” story and not “humorous” story. If you want to write a humorous story, simply write a regular story and throw in some funny parts.
In a regular story, character, setting, plot, etc... are all paramount while humor, if present, is secondary. A humor story, on the other hand, is different in that plot, character, etc... are all considerations secondary to the hilarious premise.
For instance, Dinosaur Ghost, by Christamar Varicella is an example of a humor story. Dinosaur ghosts return from extinction and start eating republicans because of their stance on gay marriage. It’s a very silly premise. Character, plot, theme, structure, etc... are only important in that they serve the comedy of the story.
Whereas, The Blue Whale, by Christamar Varicella, is about a young man on the verge of a crack-up who seeks solace with a hallucinated blue whale in his bathtub. While the story has certain comedic elements, in this case the comedy serves the overall story while character, setting, theme, etc... are of equal or greater value than the comedy itself.
For the sake of this article, we have decided to go with a premise derived from a conversation we had with our eight-year-old daughter. A guy goes back to “olden times” and hilarity ensues. You’ll notice this is pretty basic and rather vague as far as premises go, but we will develop it as we go along. The reason we chose this premise is because we were slightly amused by her reference to “olden times.” And while the story has been told before (isn’t this the premise for Hot Tub Time Machine) there is plenty of room for comic exploration.
Sometimes the decision to write a humor story comes down to a gut reaction. Humor can usually be found somewhere near the guts.
As any story writer can tell you, having a character is extremely important. So, let’s brainstorm at least one character (or protagonist) to populate our premise.
A psychic. It might be fun to watch a psychic go back in time and still get predictions wrong due to a basic lack of historical understanding.
A detective. Might turn into a detective story.
A Know-it-All. Similar to a psychic. Audience might enjoy seeing him/her get things wrong. For the sake of time, and since we’ve already stated that everything takes a backseat to the comedy, let’s just go with this one. We can always make him/her a psychic later.
So now we have this as our premise: A know-it-all goes back to “Olden Times” and gets a lot of things wrong that the reader might know. Hilarity ensues.
It still sounds a bit hackneyed. We’ve all seen something like this before. Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court comes to mind, and people who think they’re smart getting their comeuppance is such a well-worn comedy trope we won’t bother listing examples.
That’s okay, though. This is a humor story, perhaps the least known and least popular of all the fiction genres and it’s highly unlikely anyone will read it anyway. (Oops. We probably should have saved that bit of information until the end in hopes that you will continue reading. Oh well. The cat’s out of the bag.)
So how does this character, let’s just call him Bob, travel back to “Olden Times?” Again, we brainstorm:
1) He just wakes up there. (Boring.)
2) He gets struck by lightening while sitting on the toilet. (Toilets are always funny. Will have to explain how lightening was able to circumnavigate the ceiling. Maybe there is no ceiling. Maybe the toilet was outside on top of a hill. In any event, a lot of exposition is required.)
3) He hits his head. (Falling off the toilet? A little too close to Connecticut Yankee I think.)
4) He drowns. (In the toilet? Let’s get off the toilet.)
5) He falls into a black hole (Instead of a toilet bowl. How does that happen? Is the world destroyed? Again, too much exposition.)
6) He falls into a regular hole. (Eureka!)
Guy Falls into a Hole. It’s got a nice ring. It nicely follows the standard joke: A Guy Walks into a Bar. In essence, this tells the story of what happens after the guy leaves the bar. It turns out, he’s too drunk to drive and he has just enough sense to know it, and since his apartment is only a mile and a half away from the bar, he decides to hoof it. One problem, or complication as they say (there always have to be complications in a story and this will be the first big one, a.k.a. the initial problem), the guy falls into a hole. It also makes a great title.
When he manages to climb out, he’s in another time, an “olden time” as it were and hilarity ensues.
A note about form and structure. There should probably be some sort of form and/or structure. For this premise, an episodic structure makes sense. Whenever Bob climbs out of the hole, he enters a new era. It could be during the Iron Age, or it could be the 1980s. Every time he goes into the hole, he comes out in a new time period.
As a know-it-all, Bob will instantly size up the situation (wrongly, it will turn out) and hilarity will ensue. Perhaps he will go in and out of the hole two or three times during the story, making this a longer work, a book even, where each chapter or installment features Bob in a new era, or maybe we will just stick to one moment in time and milk it the best we can. The decision will largely depend on how long we can sustain our interest in Bob and his experiences. For the sake of simplicity and brevity, we suggest focusing on a single time period.
More brainstorming, this time for the setting (time and place):
1) Prehistoric times. Maybe in a jungle or something.
Okay, let’s go with that.
As we know, Bob is a know-it-all who’s going to get his comeuppance, but he is somewhat likable (he elected not to drink and drive after all) and thus he is someone the reader will want to root for as well as laugh at.
Hmm. We should probably give the reader a little something extra to help them buy into the story’s conceit, some way for them to suspend their disbelief so they will follow Bob on his journey.
Perhaps, as most of us do these days, Bob only pays nominal attention to his surroundings due to a fixation with his “smart” phone. Naturally, Bob will have an iPhone or a Droid or something, but in prehistoric times, it will be impossible to get service. Therefore, he will constantly be looking at his phone, checking for “bars.” Thus distracted, he will fail to absorb and process all the details and clues provided by his new environment.
You will have noted previously that Bob was a one-dimensional character. Now we have another, second dimension to add, which, for the sake of a character in a humor story is plenty. We also have the added bonus of a little social commentary on the modern individual’s dependence on technology.
No doubt, you’ve heard of the Rule of Three in comedy. Well, we’re going to do one better, and change it to the Rule of Four. Bob should encounter four funny obstacles in each era before he is driven back into his hole. Each obstacle should become increasingly difficult while gradually filling in the overall picture of the world Bob is inhabiting.
1) Bob notices changes in his environment. He suffers through tropical heat, humidity, and thick prehistoric vegetation. Rather than recognizing the new world he has entered, however, Bob attributes these minor obstacles to dehydration suffered from last night’s bender and global climate change. To clear a path, he uses his phone to search for landscapers. Damn! No service.
2) Bob is attacked by giant prehistoric mosquitoes. Bob will overcome this obstacle thanks to the handy pocket-sized bottle of bug repellent he carries due to his ever present concerns over Encephalitis and the West Nile Virus (Turns out Bob is a bit of a hypochondriac. Look, Ma, more character development. Three dimensions, a new record!)
3) Bob comes into contact with a saber tooth tiger. Naturally, this will draw his attention away from his iPhone. He will assume he has stumbled upon a mountain lion that has ventured away from its natural habitat in search of food. Again, he will attribute this to climate change.
Notice how the obstacles are becoming increasingly difficult to overcome.
So, how can Bob expect to escape from a saber tooth tiger? He can’t outrun it and he used up all his bug repellent on the mosquitoes. He can’t knock it out with his cell phone. (We might need him to have that later.) He will likely be too frightened to move. Yes, he’s frozen in his tracks and the beast is about to devour him when it steps into a trap set by one of Bob’s primitive ancestors. (Ding Ding Ding!)
4) Bob encounters prehistoric man. Territorial in nature, lacking basic language/communication skills, and seeking to drive away a competitor from his food supply, prehistoric man will attack Bob with a stone ax. Bob, seeing the thick beard and unusual clothing, will assume he is being attacked by a deranged hipster.
The ending writes itself. Bob turns around and runs away, only to fall back into the same hole from whence he came. There he will stay until we are ready for him to emerge in another era.
Now that we have a basic outline, we need to hammer out a first draft, and then revise carefully, seeking opportunities to expand and elevate (or lower) the humor, then make several more passes through the manuscript with an eye toward repairing errors of grammar and spelling and increasing fluidity, and then submit the final product to us for review and criticism. Did we forget to mention that this post requires homework? Silly us. We’re so forgetful sometimes.
Assignment: Take the hilarious premise, character(s), plot (with increasing obstacles), setting, theme, and ending provided by us and construct a story in which hilarity ensues. You may then submit the final product to us at email@example.com. The winner may or may not receive a few chuckles. Or we may not read it. By that time, most likely, we will have moved on to something else.
Guy Falls into a Hole
Christamar Varicella and ?
Monday, July 21, 2014
Dear Steve (Steph?),
I just finished your book, On Writing. Pretty scary stuff. No wonder you are known as the guy who writes horror.
But if you’re the guy who writes horror, how come two of my favorite movies are The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile? I guess I just like prison movies. You should think about writing a book set in a prison. I might read it.
So, I heard you tweet the names of books you like, thus boosting sales for those authors. I thought maybe you could tweet and like my book Dinosaur Ghost.
“DINOSAUR GHOSTS ARE REAL AND THEY’RE EATING REPUBLICANS.”
Currently the book is only available for free as a pdf, so you’re going to have to tweet really hard if I’m going to make any money on this project.
But I know you can do it. Anybody who can write three books a year can easily write 12 Dinosaur Ghost-related tweets an hour, seven hours a day, for 363 days a year. (Go ahead and take this weekend off.) We’ll split the profits 50-50!
Also, you should probably think of some good blurbs to tweet. I call them Twurbs. I’ve taken the liberty of dropping a few choice nuggets for you to choose from.
Dinosaur Ghost gave goosebumps to my Goose, Bumps. (My goose knows how to read.) - Stephen King
Dinosaur Ghost is the best dinosaur-related pornography I’ve ever read. (Actually, Jonathan Franzen has dibs on this one.)
Dinosaur Ghost is like a dose of shock mixed with a heaping helping of awe, with a side of mashed potatoes. Hold the butter. -Stephen King
Dinosaur Ghost is the one book I wish I’d written, or at least read. -Stephen King.
Just let me know which twurb you want me to start twurbing and using in my promotional material within the next 24 hours (Go!) or else I’ll assume you want me to pick one for you and sign your name to it.
I’ll close with perhaps the scariest thing I’ve ever read: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I’m going to be honest with you, I haven’t watched any of your programming since 2008 because, well, WE WON!!!! Woo Hoo! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA!
After that, I disengaged in politics because it seemed to me that a complete and total liberal victory in all of the partisan battles was a foregone conclusion.
Universal Healthcare through a single payer system: DONE.
Guantanamo Bay: CLOSED.
Violence and War: ENDED.
Abortion: FREE FOR EVERYONE.
Don’t tell me if I’m wrong about any of that. I hate spoilers.
So anyhoo, how’s Keith Olbermann doing? Is he still sticking it to those corporate fat cats?
Listen, as a fellow liberal I wanted to cut you in on something that CNN and FOX NEWS have already jumped all over--I’m talking about Dinosaur Ghosts.
DINOSAUR GHOSTS ARE REAL AND THEY’RE EATING REPUBLICANS!
I know. You should be all over this story.
But listen. We have to proceed carefully with this one lest the right wing reaction machine react by trying to pin the latest spate of attacks on you. You’ll need to stick to the facts.
Here are the facts:
1) Dinosaur Ghosts crashed an NRA meeting, resulting in a number of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
2) Dinosaur Ghosts incinerated a popular television pundit through the power of flatulence.
3) Dinosaur Ghosts desecrated a creationist museum.
4) Dinosaur Ghosts consumed the right wing of the Supreme Court.
5) Other stuff.
Now, once you start ticking off these factualities during regular programming, things are likely to get pretty hot. But your network can cool it down with your level-headed coolness of head.
But you better get going. As we speak, FOX NEWS is preparing to use this information to scare the elephant doo out of its loyal viewers. Your loyal viewer(s) need(s) you to counteract the madness with some good old fashioned madness of your own.
Now, go get to work!
Oh, and tell that boy who looks like Rachel Maddow I said hi. Also, tell Rachel Maddow I said hi.
Yours in Christ(amar Varicella),
Dear FOX NEWS,
You’re looking foxy today. Not like some other “news” sources I could name. I put quotation marks around “news” because, let’s face it, reporting on “Dinosaur Ghosts” is not really “news.” But it is according to CNN! Those guys/gals are totally about to scoop you on the existence of Dinosaur Ghosts!
And if you think that’s frightening (It is!), it gets worse. (Oh no!)
The Dinosaur Ghosts are totally freakin’ liberal! According to my sources, they are TARGETING REPUBLICANS worse than the IRS! They are TARGETING REPUBLICANS not for the content of their character but for the immorality of their policy positions. And I for one aren’t gonna take it anymore!
You guys need to get on this story like pronto (or sooner!)
Don’t sit idly by while the liberal media is TARGETING REPUBLICANS. Honest god-fearin’ Americans need you to report the facts now! Because if you think the IRS is scary (Boy howdy!) just wait until you see what the dinosaur ghosts are doing. We need to scare people into understanding the truth about these liberal dinosaur ghosts who are TARGETING REPUBLICANS.
Now let’s get scarin’!
And fellow conservative!
To learn more about how the liberal media is TARGETING REPUBLICANS click the following links: An Open Letter to Thomas Pynchon, An Open Letter to Cormac McCarthy, An Open Letter to Jonathan Franzen, An Open Letter to CNN, and/or An Open Letter to MSNBC
I understand the pressure you’re under. The imminent deadlines. The constant need to fill every minute of every day with... something. All that time to fill--basically infinity--and so little of the news is actually interesting.
I tell you, Brother/Sister, I’ve been through it. I just wrote a novella (short novel) in 15 days, and it was brutal. Every day I woke up and said to myself, “Time to feed the beast.” (That’s what I call my grandmother.) Then I would sit down and type up a chapter.
All that hard work, and yet, my viewers were never satisfied! (By viewers I mean the people who like to watch me write.)
“When are you going to finish the book?” They would say.
And I would reply, “Alright, Grandma. I’m doing it. I’m doing it. But I’m still not getting a job when I’m done!”
The moral of that story is that I feel your pain. And I’m here to help.
Instead of reporting the actual news (things that really happen), why not increase your market share by reporting on things that MIGHT happen? It’s really a small step from where you are now, but it’s one giant leap for mankind. (Pretty good line, huh? I just made that up.)
With that in mind, I happen to be the world’s leading authority on a little known phenomena known as Dinosaur Ghosts.
What are Dinosaur Ghosts, you ask?
I’m glad you asked. Imagine a world in which dinosaurs walk the Earth. Now imagine that they go extinct. Now imagine that they come back and start eating republicans because of their stance on gay marriage? Can you imagine that?
Good. Now, go report it. Then sit back and wait for the ratings Bonanza!
I understand if you have some reservations, but don’t worry. I can totally back up the existence of Dinosaur Ghosts with hard evidence.
Now, things could get pretty heated once you break the story and scoop your competitors, so from now on, I want you to refer to me by my code name, Deep Throat. (I made that up too. It’s based on a movie I watched with my dentist. It’s also based on how long some of the throats are of dinosaur ghosts. Have you ever seen a diplodocus? Pretty deep throat, huh?)
I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Christamar Varicella (Diplodocus Throat)
To learn more about Dinosaur Ghosts, please read An Open Letter to FOX NEWS,An Open Letter to MSNBC, An Open Letter to Thomas Pynchon, An Open Letter to Cormac McCarthy, An Open Letter to Jonathan Franzen,