ON WISHING I COULD USE HUMOR IN BLOG POSTS

A few years ago, I interviewed for a resident assistant position. The interview was an hour long, and was held in a small room in First Street Towers, the newest and most luxurious of the Purdue University residence halls.

"Okay. One last question, Dawn," my interviewers said. "If you were a candy bar, what candy bar would you be, and why?"

"SweeTarts."

My answer was quick, and my interviewers nodded with mild surprise. "Why's that?"

"Because I like to make people smile, and I want to make sure everyone is okay and happy," I explained. "Buuuuut ... I undoubtedly have a sassy side."

I grinned, my interviewers laughed, and I was satisfied.

What I've found through five years of blogging, however, is that making people laugh through an online platform is much harder to do. How many times have we seen our friends and followers say, "I'm sorry; the sarcasm must not have come across"? Sarcasm has to be crafted into wit and cleverness. One-liners have to be relatable, and not insulting. And, sometimes, an entire conversation has to be shared in order for the context (and, more importantly, the tone) to be understood.

And, sometimes, it's just easier to add an extra layer of quirk.


Ty has described me as genuinely quirky. Others say I'm sarcastic. Quick. Goofy. Even the phrase "sassy pill" has recently entered my vocabulary, after a friend accused me of taking one before an Instameet.

In person, it's easy to make a joke or a retort. It's easy to act out a situation using voice, gestures, and language. You can roll your eyes. Or make others stare blankly. You can run into walls--whether on accident or on purpose--and get a laugh. You can be the awkward one, the one around whom others don't have to feel embarrassed.

But, honestly, I don't know how to translate my humor into a blog post. I don't know how.

Lately, I've begun to wonder if this blog exhibits only a part of who and what I am. I am Dawn. I am in my mid-twenties. I'm an Iowan by birth, an editorial assistant by trade. I'm emotional. I'm a daydreamer. My heart is most attached to books, wisdom, nostalgia, and the poetics of everyday life--a "hello" from a stranger, a gentle rain falling into my open palms.

But I'm also hyperbolic. And I laugh at my own awkwardness. And I just ... I don't know how.

A few of my favorite bloggers include Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half), Mara Wilson (Mara Wilson Writes Stuff), and Una LaMarche (The Sassy Curmudgeon). Each individual has her own sense of humor, and her own way to share it. I envy them all--for their honesty, their use of swear words, their innovative descriptions, and even their self-deprecation.

Una can construct an entire post about the science behind chocolate mini donuts. She also titles dopey fashion poses, "Third World Toilet" being my favorite. And Mara? Mara makes me think, makes me wish, and makes me envious, for she is my age, with a clear amount of skill and wit. Allie never fails to make me physically laugh; whenever a new post would appear, Zoë and I would simultaneously text each other. "There's a new Hyperbole and a Half!" we'd exclaim. Allie posts with a creative urgency that intrigues us all, leaves us all wanting more, more, more. Alot more. And then there's Jenny. Author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened and blogger of anxiety, taxidermy, and conversations about giant metal chickens.

They're good.

And me? 

I think part of my fear lies in intimidation; although I greatly admire the blogs above, their popularity reminds me that I am just one person, a small person whose humor may not be understood. I find laughter in my own awkwardness, for instance, in my uncanny knack for tripping up stairs, running into walls, and cutting my lip on DVDs. I'm also the girl who openly detests pants, spiders, and potatoes that have grown eyes. (By the time a potato has grown eyes, it no longer looks a potato. It looks like a star-nosed mole. Personally, I prefer my tubers to bear absolutely no resemblance to rodents.)

But, for as much as the above blogs intimidate me, they also inspire me. They give me hope that, hey, you know, I can figure this out.

Maybe.

Sort of. Kinda. I don't know.

I mean, even if I don't, even if all I am here is a twist of words and imagination, at least I know I can always share a photo of me in a cat sweater.


Have you ever felt challenged by this same issue--that you would like to express more of "yourself" on your blog--be it humor, knowledge about black and white movies, or memorable moments in your relationship--and don't know how? 

What is your greatest fear in trying to express your humor or your whole self? 

Do you have any favorite humor blogs?

4 comments:

  1. I see your humor, your sensitivity, your views thru your photos.. its so evident... I do agree that text messages, emails, even blogs can be misconstrued especially if humor is misunderstood..but, I feel that it takes a sensitive person to see what the writer is trying to convey.. Altadenahiker.blogspot conveys humor very well.. and she can touch a reader's sensitive side.. also Livingvicuriously wrote about her dog that passed some time ago and that touched a raw nerve w/her readers... I've written about some personal stuff and my readers were affected... I have found humor doesn't come across as easily... especially if the reader is in a mood...Recently, my oldest left a snarky comment directed at me.. I am still a bit hurt by it but I know its her smart ass humor..

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    1. Thanks for the reading suggestions! I've visited Living Vicuriously before, actually. I have not seen her post about the loss of her dog, though. I'll take a look at altadenahiker. I completely agree with what you said about humor being easily misunderstood--you have to find a way to be approachable and entertaining. (Which is probably why self-deprecation works so well.) I've gotten a little sassier on Twitter, and it's easier to "be myself" on Facebook and Instagram, but I still haven't found a way with blogging yet. Takes practice, I suppose?

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  2. I absolutely love everything you write. It is so interesting, profound and thought-provoking and I can't really imagine any post being a failure. You should just give it a go, you seem to admire all of those writers for their individuality and then are worried that yours will hold you back because nobody will get it. Well I am the queen of laughing at my own jokes when nobody else does and I can assure you, sometimes it is worth making yourself laugh and not worrying what anyone else thinks! Go for it. Chuck in some wit and sarcasm. Some will get it, some won't but perhaps they will on retrospect, we can all be slow sometimes xxx
    La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy

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    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I'd like to try and throw some more humor in, even if it appears in conversations that I write out! :) I'm pretty sarcastic in real life, and love to laugh, and sometimes I don't think I'm showing that side here. One of the bloggers I mentioned, Una LaMarche, read this post as well, and also said to "just go for it!" You both said the same thing--write about what you find funny, and if others don't get it, well, then you still owe yourself a high-five for doing it. :)

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