Took me 4 years to get to this workshop. When I wrote a story about my garbage anxiety when the bears wake up and raid our cul-de-sac and the Erma Bombeck peeps published it on their website, I read about this workshop, held every 2 years in Dayton, Ohio. It sold out in five hours the first time I tried registering and I didn’t get in. This time I was prepared. Last December, I set my alarm since Alaska is 4 hours behind Eastern time, and made it in by the skin of my teeth.

I didn’t know what to expect. I’d joined the workshop Facebook page and read posts from previous attendees. Even struck up a couple online friendships with some writers and noticed how funny and witty they were. Whoa, what did I get myself into, how will I measure up, a new kid on the block and the only one from Alaska?Erma4

I was told to prepare to laugh 24/7 and I did. Each keynote speaker we had was inspirational and funny at the same time. The sessions about humor writing were outstanding. One of my favorites, from Monica Piper (Rugrats writer) was, whenever you can’t get your funny on and get writer’s block, make a list of “Things You Will Never Hear Me Say.” She’s created stand-up routines based on these. Hers were, “Do these jeans come in a long?” (She’s short) and “Hand me that 3-page recipe.” (She hates to cook).


So I started my list. Things You Will Never Hear Me Say:

I can’t wait to load the dishwasher…I never lose anything…I love this turbulence, the bouncier the plane, the better… I love getting up at 5 a.m…Bras are SO comfortable… I hate being called a MILF…

You get the idea. Try it sometime for some reverse self-discovery. You’ll be writing funny in no time!Erma2

Wendy Liebman, who has appeared everywhere, from Letterman to Leno and headlined in Vegas after the workshop, taught a standup comic boot camp. I went out of curiosity, not that I have designs on being a standup comic. We were each handed a joke and told to get up on stage and tell it. Under Wendy’s tutelage, one-by-one we filed up to tell our joke. I was nervous, I didn’t think mine was funny, so decided to add a Sarah Palin impression. That little twist seemed to hit the mark and I scored some laughs. It was scary and fun to get out of the old comfort zone.

So glad I went, the camaraderie between writers, agents, and publishers was phenomenal and supportive. Learned so much from so many funny writers. One thing was…there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

As Erma Bombeck once said, “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”


And so I will. I hope you do too.


© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2018, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.       


Written by Lois Paige Simenson

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