I'm taking a weekend class about comedy skit writing. It's one of those things people do to learn a little something, meet people and get out of their comfort zone. I'm having fun with it. It's a world away from my recent work in graduate school. I learned a lot and met people there, too, but it's nice to take a class where I don't really have to do the homework.
I mean, I'm doing the homework, but the level of stress over it is significantly lower than when I was paying thousands of dollars for school. And if my teacher did try to kick me out of class for not doing the work, I could stage a dramatic, you-can't-kick-me-out shouting match, the results of which might be the exact kind of comedy skit we're hoping to write in class. So in effect, I would have done my homework after all.
We're supposed to be writing jokes, but everything I write starts to sound like a newspaper column. Getting "out of my comfort zone" might take a little more prodding than I thought. Going to grad school was out of my comfort zone. Liked the writing; didn't like the reading. Liked the people; didn't like the tuition. I did complete my teaching program and worked a little in the classroom, but I ended up basically where I started, here at the newspaper, though with a different title, different desk.
Maybe it's called a comfort zone for reasons that aren't bad. Maybe we shouldn't be quite so worried about getting out of it all the time.
Still, I think it's good I'm taking another class. I still do need to finish that homework. So far, my jokes are suffering. Here's one: "My teacher told me to write a joke, but the joke's on him because I'm not funny." I made myself laugh out loud with that one. There's something to be said about being able to make yourself laugh, but that probably isn't what he's aiming for.
I've taken a dance class in the past and have enjoyed being able to refer to "my dance teacher," as if simply having a teacher makes me a better dancer. I'm clinging onto the same kind of coattails with this class, taught by local actor Jody Kujawa. He's really talented and funny. I can say he's my teacher and claim some status from it. The News Tribune also recently wrote about how he turned his life around with better diet and exercise, so he's setting a good example for this aging mom. Last week, I drank my McDonald's frappe in front of him with a touch of guilt - that's progress.
He's encouraging us to make a list of things we think are funny because when looked at as a whole, it will tell us a lot about ourselves. What I'm learning so far is that I'm meaner than I thought, and that I don't love jokes so much as bizarre things, often said sincerely by my children. Like when my kid told me, "Mom, do NOT put lemonade in your mouth and then put water in your mouth because it tastes like rotten elephants." That made me laugh.
My jokes are like an episode of "Kids Say the Darndest Things." That's all I've got. Feels comfortable, though.
Beverly Godfrey is features editor of the News Tribune. Write to her at email@example.com.