Not everyone can be a writer of hilarious literary-themed humor: You need an MFA, a refined sense of sophistication, and, let’s face it, a penis. Last week, my girlfriend, Jessica, an aspiring humor writer herself, broke up with me because I re-wrote her literary humor piece while she was sleeping. She told me that was an “arrogant” and “chauvinistic” thing to do, but I now realize what she actually meant was that she was grateful for my help and wanted even more great tips.
And then it hit me: if Jessica is begging for my wisdom, there must be dozens of other hot girl writers who are crying out for my help, too. So ladies, you can breathe now: I’m here with advice on what authors you can work into your own, inferior comedy pieces.
You can put Ernest anywhere for maximum laughs. I've written about him in a nail salon, at the DMV, and even at a vampire-themed strip club for a hysterical All Hallow’s Eve romp. My winning formula: any physical location, plus a quote you half-remember from Old Man and the Sea, equals comedy gold, as long as there’s no female voice anywhere in the piece.
(Remember: when there’s a female protagonist, your reader will get bored unless they take off their top in a literary way.)
David Foster Wallace
Two words: Infinite Jest. God, just thinking about the facts that this book exists and is difficult to read gives me a comedy boner. Name-drop DFW in any piece for laughs from a wide variety of audiences: men who went to Vassar and men who went to Columbia.
(Note: Jessica, I forgive you for not laughing at my David Foster Wallace jokes. It’s not your fault you went to a state school.)
What even is a Bell Jar anyway? Some kind of tampon container, I assume? Or like some bell-shaped jar that women clang around to communicate to each other they are on their periods? No potential for laughs.
“Men seldom make passes at women who wear glasses?” First of all, I hit on all women regardless of how well they see, and second of all, if I can't land a joke about Dorothy Parker taking over Warby-Parker to make sexy eyewear then I think we have to conclude there's no point in even trying. Hard pass.
Once I found out she had a story called “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” I just threw in the towel. She sounds like the type of chick that would just stick you in the Friend Zone and we all know there’s nothing funny about that. A good man is easy to find. You’re looking at one, Jessica!
Phil is a literary genius and his rich catalogue is ripe for the picking. Some of my recent hilarious pieces include a modern version of Portnoy's Complaint where Portnoy calls to dispute a charge from OnlyFans on his credit card and another gut-busting monologue where Nathan Zuckerman narrates a game of Wii tennis.
Catcher in the Rye is a classic because Holden just does what he wants, when he wants. He also frequently says the opposite of what he means and, take note ladies, this is called irony, which is a frequently-employed literary device. On a personal note, I relate to Holden because everyone who doesn't clap for my posts on Medium is a phony.
Jessica, I’m not going to apologize for re-writing your Jane Eyre-themed “Real Wives of Thornfield Hall” piece into the much, much funnier, “The Bronte Sisters Have a Wet T-Shirt Contest.”
Ladies, even though you’ll never be as funny or brilliant as I am, I hope going through these literary figures was educational for you as you continue to develop your inferior craft. You're so welcome for my sage advice.
Also Jessica, in the future if you want my help on your humor writing, I will be charging 20 bucks per minute, so please think hard about your decision to dump me.