Posts Tagged With: humor

Spotlight on Donna Cavanagh – Author of “How to Write and Share Humor”

Excerpt From How to Write  and Share Humor:

 

PART I: CAN I WRITE FUNNY?HowToWriteHumor(final2

 

Some writers do not know they are funny. Some writers can’t put their funny into words, and some want to use humor to loosen up their audience. How hard is it to write funny?

 

Chapter I: Let’s Talk Humor

A few years ago, while surfing the net, I came across this great quote from author and literary analyst Michael Cart. I found Mr. Cart on LinkedIn and asked him to follow me, but I got no response. However, in his defense, and as anyone on LinkedIn knows, if a person you don’t know asks you to be a connection, that person is probably a stalker. Yep, LinkedIn is the most paranoid social media platform available, and it makes people crazy with suspicion, but I still like it.
Anyway, back to the quote from Michael Cart, which I assume is correct because I did read it on the internet and everything you read on the internet is true so…
“Humor is the Rodney Dangerfield of Literary genres. It gets no respect.”
That quote blew me away. It is so profound that it deserved to be centered, italicized and put in quotation marks. And it is one hundred percent true. We all know we like to laugh. We watch comedians, sitcoms and funny movies. Our Facebook feeds are saturated with funny pictures, headlines and witty sayings. While I have no scientific data to back this next statement up, I would guess that humor is the fourth most popular type of post on Facebook. Posts about puppies, kittens and, of course, the consumption of wine seem to grab the top three spots.
Despite its amazing popularity, humor still is the black sheep of the literary world. It’s a mystery as to why this is. My guess is that those in the “real writing and reading world” put down humor because they struggle writing humor, and that fact ticks them off.

HUMOR IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT GENRES TO WRITE

I don’t mean to burst your bubble so soon out of the starting gate, but a lot of people do NOT write humor well. And I’m not just talking about the ability to write jokes or humorous essays. I’m talking about possessing the ability to infuse humor into their work even a tiny bit. It’s a difficult task and not for the weak hearted. Humor, if not done well and even if done well, can be misconstrued, judged or viewed as offensive. So you have to be careful with your words and project how they will affect your life and those in your life.

Who should not write humor?
· Anyone who hates to laugh
· Anyone who finds no humor in everyday life
· Anyone who needs to be liked all the time
· Anyone who is afraid to be offensive
· Anyone who must declare out loud to the world as often as possible how hysterically funny he or she is (if you have to keep telling people you are hysterical, there’s a better than ninety percent chance you are not hysterical).
What are some of the major challenges to writing humor?
· It is hard to translate the cadence of spoken word to written word.
· It is hard to create descriptions that paint your story in a humorous way.
· It is hard to create dialogue that represents the tone of the story you want to tell.
· It is hard to let go of inhibitions that have plagued you since you left the womb.
· Don’t fret. In this book, we will cover many of these challenges for you. So take a deep breath and read on.

 

CHAPTER II: To Niche or Not Niche

I guess if we want to truly understand the humor genre, we should start at the beginning and ask “What is humor?” I could give you the dry dictionary definition, but that’s boring. Instead, I’m going to give you my definition. Humor makes us smile, chuckle or laugh so hard coffee shoots out our noses when we read and drink at the same time. Humor tickles our funny bones and transforms a bad mood into a good mood. Humor is powerful stuff. In case anyone is wondering, comedy is a category under humor and is defined as a humorous art form, which can be written or oral and results in physical laughter. There are also many sub-genres of humor. Some of the more popular include:
· Observational Humor – Finding comedy in everyday life from your neighbor’s habit of walking around outside in his underwear to funny road signs
· Situational Humor – From trips to the emergency room to getting pulled over for a ticket to finding snakes in your bed—sure they sound terrible, but if they are not happening to you, they can be pretty funny.
· Satire – Making fun of culture, society, politics, religion, etc.
· Bathroom Humor – Fart and poop jokes never to go out of style.
· Relationship and Family Humor – Spouse and kids and all that goes with these topics, plus dating and divorce
· Stage of Life Humor – This can sometimes overlap with relationship humor as it encompasses topics such as empty nest, middle age, mommy bloggers, widowhood and menopause.
· Caustic or Snarky Humor (takes no hostages) – No one is protected from witty barbs.
· Melting Pot Humor – In this category I include everything from silly or funny photos with captions to fictional essays.
Do I have to find a niche?
Let’s assume you have the gift for humor but you don’t know what to do with this gift. The number one question budding humorists ask is “What should I write about?” I might be a rebel here, but this is my take on this sensitive topic. From day one in classrooms, kids and adults are taught “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.” I’m not against this advice for beginners, but I am against that advice if two years down the road, you are still writing only what you know. Talk about boring. Writing is fluid; writing is a journey. Make sure you book the trip and take that journey to the unknown or else you might find yourself stuck in a pile of mediocrity with no hope of escape. That sounds so dramatic, right? Okay, you might not die in a pile of mediocrity, but you will be trapped until you get the guts to try some fresh material. Take some chances!
I hear what you are saying: “I need a niche; I need a niche.” And, yes, to an extent that is true. You are not going to write about being a single dad if you are a polygamist with twenty-two kids. You are not going to write medical humor if you vomit when you get a paper cut. However, recognize the limitation to your niche. You cannot still be a “mommy blogger” when your kids have received their own AARP cards. You cannot be known as the menopause maven when your hot flashes and dry vagina turned cold a decade ago. In other words, it’s the theory of Natural Selection: adapt or become extinct. Be creative, move on, push that envelope and find your funny elsewhere. It’s okay to leave a niche behind so you can grow as a writer.
One other point while we are talking about what to write. Humor does not mean your entire life has to be an open book. Sure, write about experiences, but be careful. Not everyone in your life will delight in the fact that they are put on public display. Learn the difference between writing about experiences in a humorous way and humiliating your friends, family and possibly yourself.

WRITING EXERCISE

Write down what makes you laugh. Why do you find these topics so funny? Can you come up with five subjects that tickle your funny bone? Turn that idea into five sentences.

 

Bio

Donna Cavanagh-2 (1)

Donna Cavanagh is founder of HumorOutcasts.com (HO) and the partner publishing company, HumorOutcasts Press which now includes the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books (HOPress-Shorehousebooks.com).  Cavanagh launched HO as an outlet for writers to showcase their work in a world that offered few avenues for humor. HO now features the creative talents of more than 100 aspiring and accomplished writers, producers, comics and authors from all over the world. Known for its eclectic content, HumorOutcasts has something for everyone.  As a writer herself, Cavanagh is a former journalist who made an unscheduled stop into humor more than 20 years ago. Her syndicated columns helped her gain a national audience when her work landed in the pages of First Magazine, USA Today and other national media.  She has taught the how-to lessons of humor, blogging and publishing at The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. Recently named Humor Writer of the Month by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Cavanagh has penned four humor books Reality: Fantasy’s Evil Twin, Try and Avoid the Speed Bumps, A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life (which she wrote with her dogs Frankie and Lulu) and the USA Books Contest finalist Life On the Off Ramp. Cavanagh hopes her latest book How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans will encourage writers not only to embrace their humor talents but show them off as well.

How to Write and Share Humor is available on amazon.

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of “OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It”

Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It

 

 

OperaFinalCover


Excerpt

 

INTRODUCTION: Singing Opera and Writing Funny

I am weird, but not dangerous. Okay, maybe I’m dangerous when I’m on a stepladder trying to install a window shade. Other than that, I am harmless and kind of cute, in a way.

But I sing opera and I write funny stuff. Go ahead and look at me like I have two heads. I don’t mind. I wish I did have two heads, so I could change them back and forth, according to the look I wanted. But I don’t. Have two heads, that is.

Don’t ask me to explain in detail how I ended up being an aging opera singer and budding humor writer. It would take too long. Besides, I might write my memoirs someday, and if you already know all about my life you won’t want to buy a copy.

My father, who didn’t have much faith in the earning power of a singing career, urged me to get an Education degree so that I could become a teacher. The teaching profession is a noble one, and good, dedicated teachers are always needed. That was my problem. I would have been a terrible teacher, and I hated the whole idea. So I got my degrees – B.A. and M.A. – in music, and set out to be an opera singer. Fortunately, I had office skills to fall back on, so I didn’t starve in the process, and, although I never sang at the Metropolitan Opera or La Scala or any of the other major houses, I had a much better career singing in smaller places than most of my opera singing colleagues.

The process of building an opera career is difficult, filled with traveling on a shoestring, singing many auditions for every job you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, backstage intrigues, greedy, sometimes unscrupulous agents and colleagues who are either the finest people in the world or the most treacherous (and you have to find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you make headway in the business, you also have to deal with spending huge amounts of time away from home. For some of us, this means picking up and making a new home in another country, with another culture and another language. There is also a thing called poverty, caused in good part by the big expenses involved in a singing career: voice lessons; coachings; audition wardrobe; printed music; mailings; travel all over the place; etc.

When you get onstage, though, and you are in good voice and the performance is going well, it’s the most satisfying, practically orgasmic thing in the world.

Now that I am a woman of a certain age, no longer actively pursuing an international singing career, you would think I would settle down, get a job with benefits, look for some lucrative sidelines to build up something for my old age, and reflect back on all the fun I had. I actually did one of those things. I got a job with benefits, at which I work five days a week. Instead of lucrative sidelines, I chose to become a writer. I guess I can’t live without dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to something at which most practitioners never make any money.

The process of building a writing career is difficult, filled with things like submitting work to many publishers for every acceptance you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, greedy vanity publishers and other people dying to take a writer’s money, and colleagues who are either the most supportive people in the world or the most envious (and you have o find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you hope to be able to live only on your writing without any other source of income, you also have the prospect of poverty.

This is a clear case of déjà vu. I have gone from one profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant to another profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant. What can I say?

I’ll say this: writing is hard work, but it’s fun. Like singing, it is satisfying in a visceral way. It is even more satisfying to me if I can make people laugh. I can’t imagine a life without doing something that I love to do, so this is it.

The irony, which I think is hilarious, is that, in other ways, singing opera is the direct opposite of writing humor. I have listed the disparities below.

SINGING OPERA vs. WRITING FUNNY

Opera: I have played serious, tragic, beautiful heroines. I have died onstage of everything from tuberculosis to poison to hara-kiri to jumping off a building, while costumed in gorgeous gowns, peasant costumes, a poor seamstress’ dress, kimonos and nightgowns. I have worn glamorous wigs and complicated hairdos and my face has been covered with a thick layer of gooey stage makeup.

Writing: I often sit in front of my computer looking like a bag lady in the most comfortable things I have that are clean. Sometimes I just leave my PJs on. Nobody is looking at me, so what the hell. If by some chance anyone is looking at me, I’m covered up and that’s what matters. I never wear makeup if I can help it. And I have not died yet, at least not that I know of.

Opera: I am in front of a bunch of people, singing very loudly and hoping for a lot of applause.

Writing: I am in front of my cat, typing on a computer keyboard and hoping to get a few laughs. If I sing I scare the cat.

Opera: People have sometimes asked me to sing something on the spur of the moment, especially at parties or family get-togethers. On the other hand, if I break out in spontaneous song in public, the people I am with pretend they don’t know me.

Writing: Nobody ever asks me for a free writing sample, and I have to practically bribe my family members to read my stuff. I can sit in a public place, such as a café or a park, and write until my fingers get tired without attracting any attention at all.

Opera: Opera singers try to avoid getting sick, especially with performances coming up, even if it means putting themselves in an isolation booth.

Writing: I don’t want to get sick, but if I don’t get out and around (breathing germs and touching things like subway poles and escalator rails) I won’t find anything funny to write about. Agoraphobia jokes get old really fast. Writers are expected to be observers and interactors. It comes with the vocation.

That’s enough. You get the picture.

What is the one subject that an opera singer turned humor writer should write about? Opera, of course! Opera is one of the greatest art forms ever invented. It is a marriage of great music and drama. It can move audiences in a special way not shared with other forms of theater. Operagoers easily become hooked, because they love it.

It is also rich in possibilities for humor. That’s where I come in. Just because I love opera and even sing it doesn’t mean I can’t poke fun at it.

By the way, as a humor writer I am allowed to exaggerate to make something funny. Please remember that when you read this book. Opera is one of the greatest, most fascinating art forms ever developed and perfected by humans. Attending a good performance is an incredible, cathartic experience. Singing a good performance can be just as cathartic in another way. If I appear to be dissing opera in this book, know that that is the farthest thing from my mind. What I do here is like cracking jokes at a good friend who is free to crack jokes right back. In a way, I am also poking fun of myself.

I hope that, by now, you have been so captivated by my brilliant lead-in that you just HAVE to stick around and read the rest of this book.

Biokathy2

Kathy Minicozzi was born on Long Island, New York and raised in the Yakima Valley, Washington State. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Eastern Washington University and a Master of Arts in Music from Washington State University. As an opera singer, she sang with the Regensburg Stadttheater in Regensburg, Germany, the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, Israel, the New York Grand Opera in New York City, Opera of the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, the Ambassadors of Opera and Concert Worldwide and other groups. Although she no longer auditions, she continues to sing as a church soloist and in an occasional concert or recital.

She has now taken up a second career as a humor writer, and has been a regular contributor to HumorOutcasts.com.

OPERA  For People Who Don’t Like Like It is available on amazon.com.

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“A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life” by Donna Cavanagh – Book Review

Canine'sGuide

Dogs steal our hearts. Dogs take control of our lives. In A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life, Donna Cavanagh, The Empress of Comedy, tells us how. Well actually, she got her dogs to relate their plans for world domination to her, but even understanding Dog is an amazing achievement.

And if you’re a dog, Donna and her dogs show you how to get a good owner. (Always let the human think she’s the owner.)

Then learn: how to order at a fast-food drive through, proper etiquette for vomiting, how to wear a seat belt, ways to look cool in a bandana, proper behavior in bed, techniques for spitting on windows, the best ways to greet people, and how to be polite. This useful book even doubles as a primer for raising teenagers.

Donna Cavanagh writes humor with a deft, light touch. I enjoyed A Canine’s Guide to the Good Life very much and recommend it highly.

See her book on Amazon.

– Paul De Lancey, reviewer

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Botswanan Shredded Beef (Seswaa)

Botswanan Entree

SESWAA
(Stewed Beef)

INGREDIENTSSeswaa-

1 onion
1¾ pounds brisket or slow-cooking beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

SPECIAL UTENSILS

large, oven-safe pot
kitchen mallet

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 310 degrees. Dice onion. Add onion, brisket and vegetable oil to oven-safe pot.) If needed, cut brisket into pieces so that it will fit.) Sauté on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until meat is brown and onion is soft.

Add bay leaves, pepper, salt, and enough water to cover ingredients. Increase heat to high, cover, and bring to boil. Place pot in oven. Bake in oven at 310 degrees for 2-to-3 hours or until brisket is quite tender. Remove brisket and place on chopping board or hard surface. Pound the brisket with mallet until meat is flaky and flattened. (This is a really good time to take out your frustrations. Remember when your Five-Layer Chicken Florentine lost to lutefisk at the state fair? Pound! Pound! Pound! Or … prepare in the presence of your no-good significant other. It sends a salutary message.)

Ahem. Return flaky, flattened brisket to pot. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes or until liquid cooks off. Remove from oven. Remove brisket from pot. Serve with vegetables, polenta, or corn-meal porridge.) And my gosh, leftover Seswaa goes great with melted mozzarella and hamburger buns.

TIDBITS

1) The people of Bostwana are called Batswana, but an individual from there is called a Mostwana. Sometimes people are called by their first names. The most popular name for a boy in Botswana is Sammy. The most popular name for a girl there is a tie between Precious and Lesego. Botswana’s currency has the most exciting name in the world., the pula which means rain. While Botswana has thriving diamond and tourist industries, it also has high unemployment.

3) Such are the most exciting facts I found for Botswana. Clearly, the country needs to loosen up. It should use its diamond revenues to employ 200,000 stand-up comics. This would make Botswana the world’s humor capital. Let’s bring this about. Together, we shall make the world laugh.

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

Categories: cuisine, food, humor, international, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gallo Pinto

Nicaraguan Entree

GALLO PINTO

INGREDIENTSGalloPinto-

1 medium onion (1 more onion later)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (2 tablespoons more later)
1½ cup white rice
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound cooked red beans (Drain if from can)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

PREPARATION

Mince 1 onion and garlic cloves. Add 2 tablespoons oil, 1 minced onion, and garlic cloves to pot. Sauté on medium-high heat or until onion softens Stir frequently. Add rice. Sauté rice for 3 minutes or until grains are shiny and coated with oil. Stir constantly. (Sautéing the rice will keep it from becoming mushy when boiled later.)

Add broth and salt. Bring to boil using medium-high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and bubbles appear on surface of rice. Cover and reduce heat to warm. Simmer on warm for 15 minutes. Do not stir rice. (The rice can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.)

While rice simmers, mince 1 onion and dice cilantro. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 minced onion to pan. Sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add red beans and this batch of sautéed onion to pot. Cook on low-medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Garnish with cilantro.

TIDBITS

1) The people of Masaya celebrates the Festival of San Lazaro by dressing up their dogs in elaborate costumes and giving thanks at church for their pets good health.

2) By all means go to the towns of San Juan de Oriente, Diriá, and Diriomo for their fiestas. Their dancing warriors beat each other over the head with bulls’ penises.

3) There are no street names in Nicaragua! Addresses are given by referring to major land marks. My home would be three blocks south from the restaurant where I believe that guy got murdered a couple of decades ago. Then turn left at the first intersection past the one with traffic lights. I have an olive tree and a few cacti in front. Of course, you might get lost trying to find that restaurant. It happened long enough ago that most people don’t know about it. Let me know if you’re in the neighborhood and I’ll send up a flare.

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

Categories: cuisine, food, humor, international, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Al Kabsa – chicken and rice

Saudi Entree

AL KABSA
(Chicken and rice)

INGREDIENTSAlKabsa-

3 pounds chicken breasts (or other parts)
2 carrots
5 garlic cloves
2 medium onions
3 Roma tomatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups chicken stock
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons kabsa spice mix (See Kabsa Spice Mix recipe if you can’t find the mix.)
2 cups basmati rice (Do not precook.)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Serves 6

SPECIAL UTENSIL

Dutch oven

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop chicken into 12 pieces. Grate or dice carrots. Mince garlic cloves and onions. Dice Roma tomatoes. Add garlic, onion, and butter to Dutch oven. Sauté garlic and onion on medium-high heat or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add chicken, tomato puree, and chopped tomatoes, Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add water, chicken stock, carrot, cloves, nutmeg, salt and kabsa spice mix. Bring to boil using high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove chicken and bake for 25-to-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until it starts to brown.

Bring to boil. Stir in rice. Simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Add raisins. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Place rice on plate and top with 2 chicken pieces. Garnish with an equal amount of almonds.
TIDBITS

1) The Temple of Eve is supposedly located in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Cool.

2) Saudi Arabia is one of the driest countries in the world.

3) British humor is one of the driest in the world.

4) These tidbits are getting shorter, aren’t they?

5) Yes, they are. You can measure them.

6) Soon nothingness.

7)

8) And rebirth.

9) And so new, longer, vibrant tidbits come into being.

10) I feel like writing a haiku to tidbits.

11) Tidbits, o, tidbits.
Life was so sad when you were gone.
I’m glad you are back

12) Haikus are composed of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively. They can evoke complex imagery within this restrictive space or they can display the elegant simplicity of the following effort:

Word, word, word, word, word
Word, word, word, word, word, word, word
Word, word, word, word, word

13) Speaking of using words to communicate information; all shops in Saudi Arabia are forbidden on Valentine’s day from selling anything red or with hearts on it. You may not wear anything red.

14) Movie theaters and beer are banned in Saudi Arabia. You must drive to Bahrain for these things, which depending on where you live could be anywhere from twenty minutes to twenty hours away. That movie had better be good.

15) And what if the beer you had made you sleepy and you fell asleep during the movie? That movie that took you twenty hours to get to? And twenty hours to get back?

16) If had to drive forty total hours for a beer, I would get the best, most expensive beer I could buy and really, really, really savor it.

17) And I would get gourmet popcorn for the movie. A giant tub of it.

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bump Off Your Enemies Anthology Is Available

Nearly fifty of the world’s finest authors contributed to Bump Off Your Enemies.
Available on Amazon Kindle. Free days are May 5, May 12, May 18, May 19, and May 26.
Oh, this is a work of fiction.

http://www.amazon.com/Bump-Off-Your-Enemies-ebook/dp/B00CJWAVAQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367249448&sr=8-1&keywords=bump+off+your+enemies

bumpoff

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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