Columns you should write |

Columns you should write

Barry Smith

Regular readers of this column know that occasionally I dig into my various computer folders and empty them of my column ideas that have yet to come to fruition. This ongoing purging makes room for the inclusion of newer, better and more current ideas that also will not come to fruition.

Irregular readers of this column, on the other hand, may want to consider the benefits of a high-fiber diet.

Ha, a fiber joke! Man, I have been looking for a place to make that joke for years now. Years! Whew. What a rush. Now I can take it out of the “Jokes to make” folder. Yes!

As I begin the next 20 years of creating a weekly offering of “Irrelativity,” I’m doing some particularly deep housecleaning. In addition to pruning the “Jokes to make” folder, I’m also completely emptying the “Columns to write” folder. But I’m not just tossing them out, as these are good and worthy concepts that deserve to be written. So I’m leaving that up to you.

Below is my remaining backlog of awesome ideas that you should write as individual humor columns. I’m also including a few ideas of directions you may want to take with these topics. Your goal is 800 or so words — fewer if you include an illustration. I’ll need them on my desk by end of day Friday. Now, get writing!



Man, I hate the word “schmear.” Thinking the word makes me cringe, saying it out loud is unimaginably challenging, and for someone to ask me what kind of schmear I want is like a tiny fist punching me in the gag reflex. Hey, I don’t even want to get schmear on my shoe, let alone my bagel. It’s the best and worst example of onomatopoeia I can think of. There are other words I hate, too, but I can’t remember them right now, nor have I been able to in the couple of years since I first came up with this idea. Or if I did, I didn’t bother to write them down. You’ll come up with something, though. Just keep typing. Good luck.

“Peeing in your own front yard.”

I know there’s some colorful Southern saying my grandfather had about this, but I just can’t remember it. Something about how good it is to pee in your own front yard — or something. Only more colorful than that. And more Southern. And maybe it was the backyard. Anyway, as someone who now has my own yard in a rural setting that is highly conducive to unfettered, semi-private, outdoor bladder emptying, I completely understand, agree with and relate to whatever that saying was.

Your job, then, is to locate that saying (or fabricate a suitable substitute) and place it at the beginning of your column. Then you can proceed to deconstruct it. Make sure you weigh in heavy on the “joy and freedom” aspect rather than just the convenience. That’s what will set you apart from the others. And don’t make it all crass and juvenile, either. This topic has the potential to be full of insight and metaphor. If you go for the cheap joke, you’ll just end up pissing people off.

“Things I’m doing that suck.”

When I look back on my life, I can see certain disturbing trends. Namely, me doing things that suck and being unaware of said things. Time, of course, reveals these things to me. As does the feedback of others. Reviewing surveillance video also helps. But by then it’s too late.

I’d like to write a column about the things I’m currently doing that I would probably be better off not doing but am, as per my trend, currently unaware of. See my dilemma?

You, however, are in a perfect place to write this column, because even if you don’t know me personally, I’m sure you can just ask around and find out what it is that I’m doing that sucks. I’d sure appreciate it, and so would your readers. Make sure I’m portrayed as a sympathetic character. Also, it needs to be funny.

“Jokes that don’t work anymore.”

Hey, in the right hands (yours), this one has some real potential. Time marches on, and things that were once hilarious shared cultural punchlines have been crushed under the weight of progress. And things getting crushed is comedy gold waiting to happen.

That said, the only examples I can come up with are jokes about the difficulty of folding road maps and how bad airplane food is, because, you know, nobody uses maps anymore, and airplanes are all about the pretzel snack packets.

But I’m sure that you, with enough time, concentration and Googling “jokes that don’t work anymore,” can come up with a long and detailed list and then write some insightful commentary about each joke lost to time. I bet you’ll also make it wistful and poignant, because you’re multidimensional and are capable of more than just cynicism and sarcasm and grabbing at humor’s low-hanging fruit.

Also, don’t include any “regularity/fiber” jokes in this list. Obviously, those are still totally funny.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays.