In our assignment from Writing Well, William Zinsser demonstrates comic devices. To question women’s public adornment with hair curlers in the 1960s, Zinsser parodied an advice column. That seems easy enough.
Using humor to make a point is really hard. For once in my life, I can’t think of anything at which to poke fun.
A couple of minor points: I think you mean “difficult” rather than that humor has a hard surface. And, it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition rather than walking around it with “at which.”
This is just an exercise, an idea to try. You don’t have to come up with anything grand. Remember, in French, “essayer” means “to try.” Try humor!
In a humorous style: I’ll give it a try. How about doggerel?
At Grub an aspiring writer,
was assigned to write something lighter,
with wit she finds ease,
never means to displease,
but how todo ahumorous essay escapes her.
Not viable for 500 words.
Zinsser suggests using humor to approach subjects an author finds emotionally charged. Cancer and grief are among my hot topics. In conversation, I use humor to deflect idle chatter about my partner’s death. In writing, I’m not sure I have the requisite distance for even ironic humor.
What about the color pink? In my childhood, I disliked pink, though I don’t remember much of it around. Other colors, blue especially, caught my eye. In the late 1980s, my pink disdain blossomed. Routine sonograms rolled back the question, “boy or girl?” by six months. No longer was society satisfied by lovingly plastering hour-old baby girls in pink to mark them: not masculine. Girls grew up in pink rooms, with pink everything. It became their favorite color, perhaps because they knew nothing else, except that blue was to be the focus of their fawning harts: their stags. Pink stands for sexism. Gender bifurcation. I hate pink.
In my normal essay style, I would move naturally from that strident, non-humorous paragraph to how my hatred has grown now that pink also stands for “fight breast cancer,” which is a mission difficult to hate. However, pink money narrows the war to a battle against only one evolution of the scourge. Every high school team has a “pink out” game. Men’s professional sports are all over it: “must save breasts.” Though they’re where we all come from, ovaries (which killed my partner) aren’t so popular.
The preceding may get nearer to the assignment (for the class, not rigid gender assignment, which many continue to transgress, as in this essay I have done to style). Note that the previous sentence rests on free association word play, which is the basis of my generally dry wit and another technique Zinsser discusses.
493 words. I’m outta I am out of here.
Humor: A Hard Way to Write an Essay by Kim Brookes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Permission to Use.