The world needs more funny people: Manny’s Cowapalooza! April 29
I was on a panel with R. Stine (Goosebumps— his books, not my emo m.o.) and someone in the audience asked us if we believed that humor could be taught. R. Stine answered immediately, no. I had a different take. I believe humor can be taught, but it isn’t. Like other art (oh, wait, what, humor isn’t art?) or sports, we’re ready to believe it’s a Gift; you got it or you didn’t.
To my way of thinking, it’s more like a sport or a musical instrument or almost anything in the sense that you get what you get, then you practice or work with/on it. I’ll tell kids, those of us who are artists or writers (of course, writing is an art) are the ones who never quit. Not after a bad day or week of work. Not after someone discouraged or criticized us. Not after someone who we wanted to get it just didn’t.
Having my own greeting card company in my twenties and early thirties (the Business School of Life) was invaluable in this regard. Comparable to big publishing houses, one-third of Widget Factory cards were “bestsellers,” one-third were solid sellers, and one-third were wallpaper (“failures”). The irrefutable bottom line showed me it was okay to fail.
So, I’ll say to kids: with jokes, some of them aren’t going to be funny to your audience. Some of them will be okay. And once in a while, you’ll really land one. You can be sure if you stop trying, you won’t ever succeed. (Genius.)
In my Manny’s Cows school/library workshop, in addition to talking about how to make butter and write stories and books, reading, and doing some singing- and drawing-along, I ask kids (kindergartners next week) to prepare and tell cow jokes (Common Core oral presentation). We run out of time before we run out of jokes.
May the same be said for all of us.