OFFICIAL LIVEBLOG – Room of Your Own: Dying is Easy, ROTFLMAO Comedy is Hard: It's two, two, two comedy panels in one!
By Terra Atrill on July 21, 2009
Session Description: Many people have no idea what goes behind creating something humorous. As it says in the title, dying is easy, ROTFLMAO comedy is hard. Do your readers end up laughing out loud, or in a fit of giggles, every time they visit your site? When you write, do you ever wonder how far is too far? How you say it, where you say it and if you should say it are just a few of the many questions we’ll discuss in this session.
Join top humor bloggers, including Anna from Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder, Deb from Deb on the Rocks, Jenny from The Bloggess, Jessica from Bernthis, Kelcey from The Mama Bird Diaries and Wendi, who writes at her namesake site Wendi Aarons, to explore your funny bone and put your comedic skills to work.
What are you known for?
Jenny: Known for offending everyone
Anna: Mostly observational humour with a twist. “It would be Denny’s at 3am”
Jessica: Cannot get laid to save her life. Within the web series: if Hitler gave me a wax job. Single mom. Lives in LA.
Kelcey: Being a NY city mom, training her daughter to go on the potty in the corner of a busy NY city street. Now lives in the suburbs.
Wendy: Wrote a viral humour piece to Always maxi pads.
Regarding NSFW and life blogging, how far is too far?
Wendy: Prefers to go with the rubber sword variety of humor, instead of mean or insulting. Tries to get people laugh with her, instead of at someone else.
Jenny: Doesn’t have boundaries. About her “Disneyworld is a lie” post and its reference to children in wheelchairs and burn victims, she was concerned that people would be insulted so she said in the post that she would take the post down if any one commented that they were offended or upset. Someone did, so she took the post down. This was followed by emails about how the post was healing and she shouldn’t have taken it down. Now aims for a lack of maliciousness.
Jessica: “Define bad” post – 1 comment was insulting, the other comments that followed were supportive. She has to draw a line because of concerns regarding her single parenting status in relation to her ex. If she makes someone smile, she’s done her job.
How would you encourage people to be more provocative?
Anna: Doesn’t think she’s provocative. “Wham bam mammogram” post made her nervous to publish because of its sensitive topic status. There’s a million ways to slice it.
Kelcey: Suppresses serious posts because she feels like it’s letting people down by publishing something not comedic.
What do you do when you’re not laughing? What’s the typical response to serious posts?
Kelcey: Great feedback. Supportive.
Wendy to Kelcey: I did unsubscribe to you.
Jessica: wrote one about Facebook, about women from high school who were mean to her. Jokes that they’re now all ugly because “Mean makes you ugly.” These woman wanted to be friends on Facebook, which brought up really traumatizing memories. Commenters said you don’t have to be friends with them. She needed to put the post out there, because she was thinking about it for days. Once she did, it was freeing.
Jenny: If you really read her posts, they’re tragic. If she doesn’t laugh about it, she’ll hide in a hole and cry. When she wrote about her aunt dying, she felt bad and told her family not to read it. They did a week later and it was the first time they’d laughed since her aunt had died.
Audience: What do you do from the people who comment about being sincerely offended or negative comments?
Anna: She feels responsible for allowing negative comments. Follow your own banner. Find the people you think are along the same wavelength and they will come back to your blog and push out the negative.
Wendy: “Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.”
Jessica: “Bring it on.”
Audience: How do you learn to be funny?
Jessica: said “Look at what you’re doing right now.” Honesty is funny. Just be yourself. Tragedy is funny – the deader the better. Just come from your heart. It sounds so simple, but sometimes things really are that simple. Keep a little pad of paper and take notes everyday – draw the picture, use adjectives, really describe the situation/person/thing. “You have to find your funny.”
Audience: Do you feel pressure to be funny in real life when you’re just not feeling like it?
Anna: Yes. Though almost universally, funny people are serious people. There’s a huge expectation. But backstage, they’re not funny, they’re angst-ridden.
Audience: How to handle negative comments, do you delete them?
Anna: Most of the time, commenters will lash out. So they don’t need response or deleting.
Jenny: You own your blog. Keep the negative comments, because you can fuck with them. And it can go back and forth, and that ends up being funny. Didn’t publish comments that had death threats.
Deb: Her comedic icons are Carol Burnett & Gilde Radner. Women are given respect when they’re radical, or when they’re not. What are the ramifications of using comedy in your blogs?
Audience: BlogHer said no to a humor column. Why is it still that women don’t believe that women are funny?
Deb: We don’t know.
Wendy: I don’t know.
Jenny: I think women DO think women are funny. Concern for sponsors not approving of the content.
Anna: We get do, in our own way.
Jessica: It’s about the numbers. Write to BlogHer, asking for a humor column. If we’re not there, the sponsors won’t be, either.
Audience: Do you say “I write a humor blog”, or what do you call yourself?
Kelcey: Yes, absolutely. Initially, she described her blog as a parenting blog that was funny sometimes and it was awkward.
Audience: What if people you’ve told you’re a humor blogger don’t think you’re funny?
Kelcey: “Fake it till you make it.”
Audience: Finding the specificity in humor is excellent. Verbal tension is funny – putting words that don’t go together works well in funny and dramatic writing.
Jessica: Sounds, hard consonants are funny.
Kelcey: Stop writing clichés.
Anna: edit your ass off. Go through it and edit, as if you’re writing a paper in school.
Jessica: Say it in one word, instead of three, if you can.
Jenny: I write my entire post and then cut it in half. Then find something completely unrelated and just fit it in there. Don’t be afraid to screw up your punctuation.
Wendy: Likes to read her posts out loud, and it helps to find a rhythm.
Deb: What do you think about people reading your blog in relation to your content?
Wendy: People would find out that she normally wouldn’t tell, like her kids’ preschool teacher, so now she tries to keep her humor more self-depreciating.
Jessica: She asks permission to write about personal situations, respecting privacy.
Kelcey: Will change one detail to protect the privacy of a person she’s including in her post.
Audience: There are often humorists on Twitter.
Deb: Can Jenny talk about funny people on Twitter.
Jenny: has different personality facets on different sites. Twitter, for her, has been a great way to get discovered and discover other people. It’s also a good way to test out blog post content.
Jessica: consider using your humorous Twitter posts on your blog.
Jenny: Dorothy Parker wrote poetry. Maybe haiku is your poetry.
Audience: How do you balance post and Tweets, so that you’re not using your funny thoughts?
Anna: “Don’t blow your wad on Twitter.” Write it down, let it marinade.
Jenny: You can just stretch it out; find a different way to look at it.
Jessica: Sometimes there’s a situation that doesn’t take up a whole story, so Twitter is a good venue.
Kelcey: Thinks you can take the tiniest thing and make it into a post. And people still like short posts, if it ends up being shorter.
Audience: How much do you embellish?
Kelcey: I don’t. Take what really happened and make it funny. Make sure the readers know what’s really true.
Wendy: I don’t ever make something up completely.
Anna: Was not in journalism, was in PR, so she fluffs everything. There’s an unwritten contract with readers wherein they reader you and decide what you write and if they like it.
Jenny: Cuts out a lot of stuff because people will not believe that these things really happened, unless she has proof. Doesn’t feel wrong about combining two conversations or cutting other stuff out.
Jessica: “It’s painful but it’s necessary.” The most painful thing that you’ve written in a post should be cut out of that specific post.
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