Day 21 of Blogathon 2013
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
For my money, not even Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart are as consistently on the mark and as consistently funny as Andy Borowitz. Apparently a lot of other people agree. His Twitter feed, @BorowitzReport, has more than 450,000 followers .
How does he do it, day after day after day?
This post isn’t going to tell you, I’m sorry to say, because I have no idea. I can only guess it’s mostly a matter of keeping his eyes and ears open, having nothing be out of bounds, and knowing where he stands.
(If you’re a conservative, be warned. Borowitz leans far to the Left.)
Borowitz was brought up in tony Shaker Heights Ohio, the son of well-educated over-achievers. He himself graduated magna cum lauda from Harvard, where he wrote the Hasty Pudding Show and was president of The Harvard Lampoon. Obviously it helps to have brains to be funny. At least his kind of smart, fast funny.
Even then people noticed him. As one of his Harvard classmates observed, “Harvard doesn’t have many BMOCs, but Andy was a very recognizable figure, even as an undergraduate. He’s tall [6’5”] and is blessed with one of the most memorable noses in show business.”
Borowitz’s major secret is that he’s is a master of the twist. Who else would think of making the Taliban a “Best place to work”?
In fact, Borowitz has published a memoir called “An Unexpected Twist,” which Amazon named the Best Kindle Single of 2012.
He takes something in the headlines, gives it the kind of preposterous contortion only he could come up with, and writes it as a straight news piece.
He hardly ever misses. Neither do the people writing his New Yorker headlines.
- U.S. Promises Smooth Transfer of Quagmire from Afghanistan to Syria
- Obama, Putin Agree Never to Speak to Each Other Again
- N.S.A. Enforces Zero-Tolerance Policy on Conscience
- Obama Denies Role in Government
His The CEO’s Guide to Surviving in Prison became an instant Amazon bestseller a full month before publication.
Borowitz created he created the hit television series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which launched the acting career of Will Smith.
When President Obama said in his 2008 Inaugural speech, quoting Scripture, that “now is the time to put away childish things,” Borowitz wrote, “I took that very personally. That’s not a stimulus package as far as I’m concerned – that’s the destruction of my industry.”
Today one of Borowitz’s on-going blog posts imagines North Korean dictator Kim Jong-II as a laid-back frat-boy obsessed with amassing fissionable material. Who else could come up with that?
As a stand-up comic, a notoriously tough way to make a living, Borowitz often asks the audience for things he can riff on because he likes the unpolished, unpredictable nature of ad libbing.
Can writers be taught to be funny? Borowitz doesn’t think so, although he agrees it’s best to keep things short.
It can’t hurt to try. And it can’t hurt to laugh while we’re trying.
Do you read Borowitz? Has he taught you anything about writing funny? Comment above.