We’re getting older. When this happens, one wants to share one’s knowledge with the younger set to save them the mistaken exits and entrances we’ve experienced and to show them we’ve still got it, baby. For that reason, a group of us are sharing today some tips for writing humorous pieces about Vashon, whether for the stage, the microphone or for the pages of The Beachcomber. There are others on-island who could do this, but they aren’t as cute. So let’s begin.
From Cindy Hoyt: Controversy bubbles beneath the surface of our (seemingly) tranquil island, and it’s just waiting to be lampooned by YOU, Mr. or Ms. Humor Writer! Look for “three islanders in a room nets four opinions” at the park district, water district, school board, fire department, chamber of commerce, friends of the library, cemetery commission, Preserve Our Islands, health center, Granny’s Attic, Community Scholarship Foundation, Audubon society, Friends of Mukai, Vashon Island Chorale, land trust, PTA, VYFS, VAA, VIPP, VARSA, PIE and Islanders for Peace. Note: Protective headgear is advised.
From Richard Rogers: Cindy’s guideline notwithstanding, never make fun of institutions that islanders hold near and dear. So we would never suggest that VIPP is a front for a Puyallup puppy mill. That would get us into a LOT of trouble! Nor would we insinuate that the carwash kids are a cult that enjoys screaming “carwash!” at complete strangers. We would also never dare to write that Gallery Cruise artwork is mass-produced in offshore sweatshops. Those peeled-off “Made in Freedonia” labels found on First Saturday had to be a fluke. And would we imply that VAA’s final piece is a takeover by the Franciscans? Wouldn’t write that either.
From Harris Levinson: After art and animals, islanders support their schools. So when writing about education, one should never suggest that the new high school isn’t perfect. Sure, the building’s color scheme is that of two of our rival schools; the wood beams may be made of balsa, and students wet their clothing because the bathrooms offer no paper towels. The award-winning campus still features a laughable gym and a track the WIAA has deemed too dangerous for competition (wait, that’s not funny), but it’s got water bottle fountains that tell you how many seals you’ve saved. So we’re happy.
From Jeff Hoyt: When running low on fodder for topical local humor (a vast resource, yet prone to depletion), stir the pot to a rolling boil with an incendiary letter to The Beachcomber that punches a selection of island hot buttons. Start off with something like: “As a non-vaccinated proponent of daily round-the-island hydro races at dawn and the open carrying of firearms on the front porch of the Roasterie, I believe that life begins at hand-holding and that all of America’s military assets should be moved to the Ukrainian border.” You’ll be awash in material by the following Wednesday.
From Greg Wessel: Another source of hilarity is The Beachcomber’s Sheriff’s Report, where you might discover that Bigfoot caused someone to break into K2, or that two perps stole a case of bok choy and abandoned it when they decided it was not a member of the cabbage family. But be careful, because you should avoid insulting anyone personally. By that I mean anyone who deserves ridicule, or tar and feathers, but who also has access to lawyers who will do anything for money. Perhaps I’m being redundant. And never criticize a restaurant. We all know that some deserve fewer than three stars in the Michelin Guide, but so few people are willing to blow their retirement savings just to serve food to us for a year or two that we should be happy they try. That rumor about horses gone missing coincident with the promotion of Steak Night is probably not true.
From Jim Farrell: A funny thing to write about is my neighbor Ed. You could write about his stupid dog or the terrible sounds his lawnmower makes as he mows his rock-filled lawn. Or you could write about how he has THREE ROOSTERS, which is THREE MORE ROOSTERS THAN HE NEEDS! Still no eggs, Ed? TRY GETTING SOME HENS! WHY AM I SCREAMING? BECAUSE ED’S ROOSTERS ARE TRYING TO KILL EACH OTHER AND HE’S TRYING TO SQUEEZE EGGS OUT OF THEM! THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS, ED! His real name is Henry, but I changed it because he’s a lawyer.
From Jeanne Dougherty: Never say anything nice about the ferries. The Tillikum is out of service, again. Your sailing is cancelled because the crew didn’t show. The galley is closed, the elevator broken, and there’s an hour wait because of “heavy traffic.” But there was that time when our friends Kathryn and Lou were taking the last ferry to catch a plane for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, forgot their passports, and the captain made an unscheduled return to Vashon just so they could grab them from their neighbor. But hey, the galley is closed. What’s up with that?
And lastly, you can always get a laugh by incorporating sex into your jokes. Sex is funny for people who get their share of it, but we find it oddly depressing. We can think of other things we like, including our close-knit community, Vashon’s ability to pull together in any crisis that doesn’t involve K2 and your tolerance of wacky writers, but those things don’t make us laugh. They make us smile. That’s probably better, isn’t it?
— Jeanne Dougherty, Jim Farrell, Cindy Hoyt, Jeff Hoyt, Harris Levinson, Richard Rogers, and Greg Wessel are all local humorists.