Top 5 Humor Writing Tips

People sometimes ask me, “How do you write funny?” I’m not sure if they mean my writing is humorous or the way I write is hilarious. So, I usually stare at these people until they wander off.

If they’re asking how I come up with funny topics and put them on paper (or screen), I share my Top 5 Humor Writing Tips.

Kidnap Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist Dave Barry. Some people think Dave retired from writing his nationally syndicated humor column, but that is not the case. He is living under the stairs in my basement (ala Harry Potter) and he gives me funny phrases for food. It’s a win-win.

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(Have you seen this man?)

Channel your bitterness and anger. Writing my humor column was the only thing that kept my teenage daughters alive. After a day of whining, slamming doors, moody sighs and over-the-top drama, they’d see me writing and back off. And their behavior wasn’t great either.

Use hyperbole ALL THE TIME. It’s one thing to say, “It’s so cold, my dog is shivering” and quite another thing to say, “It’s so cold my dog is selling lap dances to purchase a ticket to San Diego.” Exaggerate everything until the hyperbolic part of your brain explodes into a million shards of dark humor.

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Document everyday situations. So you were driving to see Trolls but instead you crashed into a median, ruptured your front tire, lost your hubcap and had to deal with a mansplaining mechanic who talked to you like you were suffering from brain damage. Yep. Write about that.

Read funny stuff. When Dave Barry stops talking to you because he thinks that’s a good idea, browse the internet for funny articles. Reading different types of comedic writing can get your humorous juices flowing (which is actually really gross) and you’ll be typing up knee-slapping blog posts in no time at all.

If none of those ideas work, maybe you’re just not funny. Have you considered a career in math?

 

 

Top 5 Things I Will Do Before Accepting Your Party Invitation

As a high-functioning introvert, I’ve trained myself to attend public events without breaking out in hives, shutting myself away in the bathroom or yelling at people to “Just stop with the talking, already!!”

But social interaction isn’t high on my to-do list. In fact, I can think of at least 50 things  I will do before accepting your invitation to go clubbing, drinking, partying or anything that involves standing in large groups of people, making small talk and eating crudites.

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The list mainly includes some version of reading, TV binge watching, eating/cooking, doing yoga or just sitting on the back porch, staring off into space. But besides those, here are five things I’ll do to avoid socializing.

  1. Clean my fridge. Yes, I would rather handle pounds of rotting broccoli and green onions than go to any “party” involving Tupperware, skin care, jewelry, adult toys or home decor.
  2. Bathe my dog. My dog hates baths more than I hate groups of people. Picture this: Ringo hears the bath water and glides out the doggy door. As the tub fills, I hunt him down, luring him with bites of meat (doesn’t matter what kind). I entice him with squeaky toys to get in the bathroom, when I slam the door and wrestle him into the water. By the time he’s “clean,” there’s no water left in the tub and my bathroom walls are covered with dog hair. Yep, I’d rather do that than party.
  3. Take a Zumba class. Me and Zumba go together like Trump and Clinton. It’s just an ugly, uncoordinated battle that no one wants to see. But if it gets me out of a black-tie reception, I’ll Zumba my ass off.kitchenintrovert
  4. Eat kale. You know how much I hate kale; the attention whore of the greens family. No one likes kale. Everyone who says they like it is a liar. Even deep fried or sprinkled with powdered sugar, kale will still taste like death. But. If I’m invited to a party and told if I don’t attend, I’ll have to eat kale? Done. Kale is my new best friend.
  5. Pull weeds. If I had lived in the Garden of Eden, I would have eaten that apple immediately so I wouldn’t have to weed the damn flower beds. To me, gardening is synonymous with dental appointments. Luckily, my husband is an avid gardener who loves to dig in the soil and be one with the earth. But if digging up dandelions will give me an excuse to stay home, get out the tiny shovels!

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So if you invite me to something and I don’t show up, don’t be offended. I would just rather do pretty much anything else, including burning my house down, to avoid insincere conversation and celery sticks.

Top 5 Things I’ve Learned by Going Gluten-free

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I never wanted to be one of THOSE people who had to tell everyone, from family members to strangers at Walmart, about their gluten intolerance. I didn’t want to be one of THOSE people who read all the food ingredients, interrogated waiters at restaurants until they cried, and then babbled on and on and on about their sensitivity to gluten.

I thought I would continue with my bread-eating, donut-binging, cookie-making life, with no thought to how gluten would one day affect me.

Until.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that has pissed me off to no end. After years of doctor appointments and blood tests, I was told “You’re just old. Deal with it.” And I thought, “WTF? This is it? I’m going to feel shitty for the rest of my life?”

But finally, I was given a diagnosis and was told going gluten-free would make a huge difference in how I feel. Riiiight. . .

So, I upended my life adapting to this new gluten-free prison, turning down birthday cake and bagels, whilst munching on raw veggies. (Not necessarily a good trade.) But it isn’t too bad. I can still enjoy many of my favorite foods. Like water.glutenfreeHere are the Top 5 Things I’ve Learned By Going Gluten-Free.

  1. Gluten is in freakin’ everything. It’s not just in bread and baking products that contain wheat, oats or other grains. It’s in soy sauce (!), licorice (!!) and even beauty products (!!!) Why can’t gluten be in kale? Or Lima beans?
  2.  Lots of other things are gluten free, including:
    • Libraries
    • Pedicures
    • Grandchildren (usually)
    • Massages
    • Shoe shopping
    • Sunrises
    • The beach
    • Hiking
    • Yoga
    • Margaritas
    • Puppies
    • Sex (usually)
    • Binge-watching TV shows
  3.  There are lots of recipes using alternative flours. Granted, most of those recipes taste like shit. But there are a few that actually taste like chocolate chip cookies. Or brownies. Or waffles. My search continues to find a flour mixture (that doesn’t cost the equivalent of a Tesla) that will allow me to return to my baking habits.brownies
  4. I don’t need to tell everyone I meet I can’t eat gluten. Yes, I understand the hypocrisy of that statement as I post a blog that is read by at least four people. But I can politely refuse baked goods without going off about how gluten has basically ruined my immune system and I’ll probably die a horrible death that involves a dingy motel room and a loaf of sourdough bread.
  5. I feel so much better. After years of daily headaches, overwhelming exhaustion, brutal cramps, unexplained bloating and overall depression, I think this gluten-free thing might be a real solution. It might just catch on.

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Top 5 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Woman Having A Baby Girl

I was blessed with four daughters. And by “blessed” I mean I survived raising four girls without landing in a correctional facility or a mental asylum. Yet. As my daughters say, there’s still time.

In our Biblical-based patriarchal society, having four daughters (and no sons) is akin to kicking your ancestors in the teeth. If I was one of King Henry VIII’s wives, I would have lost my head after my second daughter was born. (Disclaimer: losing your mind is different from losing your head. I’ve often done the former, but not the latter.)

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But I LOVE my girls and wouldn’t trade them for all the boys in the world. However, that didn’t stop stupid people from making stupid comments to me when I was expecting one girl after another. These are things people actually said to me that you should NEVER say to a woman having a baby girl.

  1. “Don’t you want to carry on the family name?” Ah, you caught me. I’ve been trying to destroy the family line for ages.
  2. “Aren’t you disappointed?” Wow, I’m so transparent. I’m just devastated that I’m bringing another strong, beautiful young woman into the world.
  3. “Oh, well. Maybe next time it will be a boy.” Really?!?! There has to be a next time!!??
  4. “I’m sure your husband will still love the baby.” What is this, China? Are you listening to yourself?
  5. “The Lord only gives sons to women who will raise them in righteousness.” Well, that explains a lot. But thanks for the vote of confidence

Seriously. If your friend, loved one, family member, distant relative, perfect stranger you see at Starbucks or a random neighbor is pregnant with a baby girl, the only thing you need to say is “Congratulations!”

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Top 5 Ways For Americans to Pull it Together

I read news headlines with increasing horror. Not because of the atrocious acts committed by people with more weapons than brains, but by the reaction of our country (the freakin’ United States of America!!). After the tragedies in Paris and San Bernardino, some Americans are called for an end to accepting refugees fleeing from war. WAR! Women, children, families, grandparents–they’re running away because people are trying to kill them.

Inexplicable presidential candidate Don Trump suggested we ban all Muslims from entering the country. Instead of offering assistance and kindness, many ‘Mericans agreed and want the borders closed, a wall built around our country and a missile-proof dome dropped over the land. Will that keep us safe? Will that let you rest easy in your comfy beds at night?

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(Coming to a city near you!)

“But maybe refugees are terrorists trying to get into our country,” you whine incessantly. Shut up.

We already have a fair share of crazy people living in America, hell-bent on inflicting terror and violence. And it’s not just potential bomb-toting refugees making a segment of the population blow their collective stacks. Gay marriage causes global warming!! Women with access to birth control will annihilate society! Gun control laws will destroy our planet!! Medical marijuana is the new crack cocaine!!

I think we all need to step back and take a deep breath.

How can we learn to work together without turning on each other like rabid raccoons trying to share one garbage can?

Here are 5 ways to pull it the f*** together:

  1. Stop judging. I’d tell you to walk a mile in a refugee’s shoes, but most of them don’t have shoes. They’ve left everything behind. Everything. If you have a compulsion to judge others, go to law school.
  2. Show compassion. Look at your loved ones. If you had to leave your home, wouldn’t you want to go to a place where kindness was key, where safety was possible? Of course you would.
  3. Be accepting. This is not about tolerance. Tolerance is a patronizing condescension you show to people you think are beneath you. Would you want to be tolerated? How ’bout accepted? You don’t have to agree with everyone, but is it possible to let them live their own lives?
  4. Use common sense. The media tends to shout at us with megaphones turned up full blast. Just because it’s loud doesn’t mean it’s true.
  5. Don’t be afraid to live. Fear creates chaos. Chaos creates rage. Rage destroys. Yes, there are people who want to do us harm. But there are many more people with big hearts, open arms and warm smiles.

French President Francois Hollande stated his country would continue to accept refugees. Since when were the French braver than Americans?! Pull it together!

Halloween for Dummies: Top 5 Tips For a Successful Holiday

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Some people live in countries (or states) where Halloween is ignored because people believe it’s based on Satanic rituals and pagan beliefs. They might have a small Jesus-themed trunk-or-treat event in a church parking lot, handing out mini New Testaments, before heading home for a family sing-a-long. But in Utah (home of pagan beliefs) we celebrate Halloween like NO OTHER. We Halloween the s**t out of October.

I attribute our love for this dark holiday as a respite from the otherwise strangling hold the dominant religious culture has on our everyday lives. When you’re afraid to go to lunch on Sunday or fearful of ordering a glass of wine with dinner, Halloween is nothing!

So if you are Halloween clueless, here are some tips to help you get through this hellacious month.

  1. Decorate your house. This doesn’t need to be elaborate. Maybe a mummy by the doorstep or a bloody head on the mantel. It seems the more religiously oppressed a person is, the more Halloween decorations they purchase. If your neighbor has a plethora of monster-themed inflatables, they probably need a religious intervention.
  2. Get a costume. To blend in on Halloween, you’ll need a disguise. Again, if you’re super-religious, you’ll probably decide to go as a sexy Dr. Who or a nymphomaniac circus clown. If you’re more moderate, a T-shirt with a clever Halloween slogan will do.
  3. tshirtCarve a pumpkin. If you’re a vegan, gutting and carving up this orange squash could make you a little nauseous. But suck it up. Carving pumpkins is a big business. Instead of using dull butter knives and metal nail files (like I did 40 years ago), there are now super-duper carving kits with all kinds of blades that will guarantee you a night in the ER. (For extra points, roast the pumpkin seeds; then brag about how you roast pumpkin seeds.)
  4. Buy candy. In bulk.  This is a holiday MUST. Utahns have an average of 9.5 children per family. There are approximately 800 families that will come to your door begging for candy. You must give each trick-or-treater (aka Halloween beggars) at least three pieces of candy. You do the math. I don’t do math. It’s a lot of candy.
  5. Host a Halloween party. Part of the requisite celebration is throwing a Halloween bash. Spend at least 14 business days constructing a menu that includes demon-themed delicacies. Make sure to throw a tantrum when people don’t appreciate your culinary efforts. Post photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and every other social media platform that validates your superior Halloween cooking talents.

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(Last year’s Carrie-themed Halloween cake.)

Important note: you must have ALL Halloween decorations, costumes, foods and paraphernalia removed by midnight on October 31 so you can start decorating for Christmas on Nov. 1. Happy Halloween!

Top 5 Ways To Stay Awake During Afternoon Meetings

Even if you’ve been freebasing Mountain Dew Voltage, eating sugar straight from the bag, or enduring a 5-Hour Energy Drink enema, chances are, if you’re stuck in an afternoon meeting, you will fall asleep.

It doesn’t matter if you’re attending a conference in Disneyworld, enduring a church meeting on a warm summer day or sitting in a department meeting in an uncomfortable chair. You will fall asleep.

If you’re out of town, you probably stayed awake all night, listening to the family of six (elephants) stamp across the floor in the room overhead. If you’re in Vegas, you’re freaking out about the money you lost at the craps table. If you’re in church, the speaker’s voice drones on like a buzzing bee. You will fall asleep.

After a big lunch, it’s easy to drift off and do that funky head bob while trying to pay attention. With no end in sight, and no Internet access, you’re almost certain to embarrass yourself with lots of snoring and sleep farting. You will fall asleep.

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But maybe that can be avoided! Here are my five favorite things to keep me awake during afternoon meetings.

  1. Bark: Maybe you make short little yipping noises, or full-on “enraged Pit bull”. Either way will stimulate your adrenaline to keep you awake just a little longer. CAUTION: Don’t bite anyone. Even the boring as s*** speaker.
  2. Cell phone alarm: When you can tell you’re getting sleepy, set your phone alarm to go off every 10 minutes. It’s super obnoxious and you’ll stay awake trying to shut it off before anyone can hear it. Option: create an app that delivers an electric shock every few minutes.
  3. Take off a layer of clothing: You shouldn’t take off your pants, but whatever keeps you awake. Being overly warm is a sure-fire way to doze off around 2 p.m. You’ll feel your eyelids touch and realize you can’t re-open them. Your eyebrows will do that “I’m trying to lift your lids and open your eyes” dance, which is a sure giveaway you’re sleeping.
  4. Create a diversion: After you feel your head bob three times in a row, jump out of your seat and yell, “Was that the bat signal?!” Then run out of the room, pulling on the black cape that you brought for just such a situation.

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5.  Start the wave: This bored-sports-fan (mostly wives and children) favorite activity gets everyone in the room up and moving. It might take a few times of you doing the wave alone before it starts to catch on, but don’t give up. Just keep on wavin’.

It’s funny how much energy you have once you leave the office. You could climb Mt. McKinley or wrestle alligators. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Top 5 Reasons to be Lazy This Summer

Remember when you were a kid and summer vacation stretched out like a long, sweet piece of warm caramel? Well, get over it. You’ll never have three months to do absolutely nothing EVER AGAIN.

But. While you might not be able to laze around the house in your jammies, eating cold cereal and popsicles until fall, you can still dedicate a significant amount of time to just being lazy. In this crazy world with its tech gadgets and social media invasion, putting yourself in time-out might be the best. thing. ever. I suggest you do it today.

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(Sometimes you just need to sit on a fountain.)

Here are the best reasons to be lazy this summer:

1. To-do lists are bulls***.  Remember when your mom gave you a list of chores to do every summer? Did you like it then? Nope. So why would you like it now? Throw out the to-do list and focus on the want-to-do list. (Disclaimer: this must involve eating at least one banana split each week.)

2. Hiding can be therapeutic. You don’t need to check out from reality for weeks at a time, but diving into a great book while eating strawberry shortcake is my idea of heaven. While I might be mistaken for a turtle as I burrow under a pillow, that’s okay. Turtles are adorable!

3. Being lazy heightens creativity. When you figure out how to refill your margarita without  leaving the comfyness of your porch swing, you have accomplished a great task. Doing nothing opens your mind to all kinds of ideas.

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4. It teaches you patience. It’s HARD to hold still. We fidget, adjust, move around and change positions all the time, usually because we’re amped on caffeine and sugar. Make yourself sit still. Listen to yourself breathe. Ignore your erratic brain telling you to “Move already!!!” After awhile, your mind backs down. If people judge you, tell them you’re not being lazy, you’re meditating.

5. You don’t miss out on the little things. Once you toss your to-do list, you suddenly have tons of time to do important things like play games, make homemade ice-cream, reread favorite novels, sit by a stream, listen to the birds, take your dog for an extra walk, look at the stars, watch the clouds roll by and plan an impromptu picnic.

Taking a few hours each week to just be lazy will make your summer feel more like a vacation. Just like when you were 10.

Top 5 Reasons to Not Eat Avocados

I’m basically an all-food eating machine. But there are some items of “food” I must refuse–on totally valid grounds. For instance, I don’t eat mayonnaise because it’s icky. I refuse to eat squid because it’s icky. In fact, most foods I don’t eat are just plain icky.

Take the avocado–please (ba-dum-dum). Besides not knowing which food classification it falls into (fruit? veggie? mineral? alien life form?) avocados are just plain ugly. I know they say it’s a fruit. But fruit is delicious. There’s even an Avocados are Yucky and Gross Facebook page.

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(Who thought this looked like a good idea to eat?)

In order to save you from unintentionally consuming one of these Alligator Pears from the Jurassic era, here are a few reasons to leave these buggers alone:

1. A waste of water. Did you know it takes 74 gallons of water to grow ONE pound of avocados? So not only are they disgusting, they’re also greedy, drought-causing little bastards.

2. False advertising. Health food nuts proclaim the common avocado is a fantastic addition to their already boring diet. But these ugly, oval-shaped, bumpy fruits (?) have TONS of fat. Health nuts also say it’s a healthy type of fat, but then you have to also include the cream filling of Oreo cookies as a healthy fat. goodfat

3. It ruins other foods. Take your basic, delicious hamburger. Smothered in pickles, tomatoes, ketchup and a hint of mustard, it’s a beautiful thing. Woe be unto those who slather their burgers with avocado or guacamole (the roadkill version).  What kind of animals are you?

4. Can you say “Poison”? Yes. Avocados are poisonous. All right, if you want to get technical, they are not usually dangerous to humans (unless ingested) but they are VERY toxic to horses, goats, cattle and birds. Why hasn’t PETA banned this slimy substance?

5.  Gross recipes. As if the regular avocado wasn’t bad enough, people try to create different ways of hiding these bilious bombs in other foods. I already mentioned the roadkill guacamole which is served at parties by hosts who don’t like their guests very much. There’s also avocado soup (really??), avocado smoothies (gag) and avocado coconut cream pie???!!! Now, sir, you’ve gone too far!

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Top 5 Ways Star Wars Changed My Life

I was 9 years old when I met Princess Leia. I was instantly smitten. It was 1977 and Star Wars had just hit the big screen, bringing with it top-notch special effects, a kick-butt soundtrack and the Force. I left the theater with a lump in my throat because I wanted it to be real SO MUCH.

Three years later came The Empire Strikes Back, and three years after that, Return of the Jedi. These movies changed my life, not in a geeky way, but in an “I Need To Train As A Jedi and Fight The Dark Side” kind of way. So, yeah. In a geeky way.

Here’s why:

1. Princess Leia–I’d been raised on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Beautiful princesses who slept while princes fought their battles. But Leia! She was brave and tough and feisty and funny and beautiful and smart–and could shoot a blaster! She flirted with Han Solo and Luke, she spit in Darth Vader’s face–and that hair! For several birthdays, I wished I would wake up as Princess Leia.

leia(Don’t mess with her. She will blast you.)

2. Darth Vader–This dark villain stormed through the Star Wars movies with his own cool theme song. He was so easy to hate. But then he saved Luke! Then Luke tries to save Vader! It was all so complicated. But it taught me that there is no black and white. Behind every horrible person is a layer of anger that comes from fear.

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(He just wanted some quality father/son time.)

3. Plot Twists. Say wha??? Vader is Luke’s father? Leia is Luke’s sister? Lando betrayed his friends? Han Solo is encased in carbonite?? Star Wars was my introduction to unpredictable stories–and I’ve been hooked ever since. Give me a plot with a neck-wrenching twist and I’m a happy camper.

4. There is a Force in the universe. Yeah, I can’t blow up a Death Star with my mind, but I can absolutely impact the world around me–for good or evil. Star Wars taught me that I’m already strong enough, powerful enough and wise enough. I just need a lightsaber.

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(Covering all the bases.)

5. Yoda Wisdom. Yoda is my co-pilot. I wanted to fly to Dagobah and train with him to become a Jedi master. I hear his voice when I’m angry. I see his eyes shut with sadness when I choose the dark side.  Today, I use his lessons in my yoga classes. Now, if I could just learn to levitate . . . .

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