HTPortal.org http://www.htportal.org Funny stuff all the time. Thu, 10 Aug 2017 06:07:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Work Can Be Funny, Says Descheneaux http://www.htportal.org/work-can-be-funny-says-descheneaux/ http://www.htportal.org/work-can-be-funny-says-descheneaux/#respond Fri, 30 Oct 2015 16:03:22 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=54 funny-businessAndre Descheneaux has made a career out of funny business. And after one of his lighten-up lectures, you may find yourself laughing all the way to the bank.

ANDRE DESCHENEAUX’S grey hair may suggest sober maturity, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Standing in front of a audience of seminar-takers, he clowns and prances, he gesticulates and performs a little dance. His routine may not be the kind of subject usually given at these events. Still, he gets his point across. As the head (and only member) of the Applied Humour Association, his purpose is to educate people about humour on the job. And his advice is unequivocal: make them laugh.

Why? Because it motivates people, it …

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funny-businessAndre Descheneaux has made a career out of funny business. And after one of his lighten-up lectures, you may find yourself laughing all the way to the bank.

ANDRE DESCHENEAUX’S grey hair may suggest sober maturity, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Standing in front of a audience of seminar-takers, he clowns and prances, he gesticulates and performs a little dance. His routine may not be the kind of subject usually given at these events. Still, he gets his point across. As the head (and only member) of the Applied Humour Association, his purpose is to educate people about humour on the job. And his advice is unequivocal: make them laugh.

Why? Because it motivates people, it …

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In Jokes, What Exactly Is Tasteless? http://www.htportal.org/in-jokes-what-exactly-is-tasteless/ http://www.htportal.org/in-jokes-what-exactly-is-tasteless/#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2015 15:53:18 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=49 exactlyistasteless“It’s a joke, a J-O-K-E,” said one Great Man of Canadian magazines, while various newspaper columns filled up with diatribes on how humorless Frum and Amiel were. After all, the joke was made by an actress in her role as a slattern from Newfoundland.

Me, well, I shrugged, having long got the measure of Canada’s media elites. Of course, it was a joke–a bad, tasteless joke. As far as I’m concerned, if people want to make bad tasteless jokes, let them. I wondered, though, what the same group might have said if at a benefit for rape victims, a co-host in the role of an Alberta redneck joked that some women, perhaps Judy Rebick and Michele Landsberg, might be a …

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exactlyistasteless“It’s a joke, a J-O-K-E,” said one Great Man of Canadian magazines, while various newspaper columns filled up with diatribes on how humorless Frum and Amiel were. After all, the joke was made by an actress in her role as a slattern from Newfoundland.

Me, well, I shrugged, having long got the measure of Canada’s media elites. Of course, it was a joke–a bad, tasteless joke. As far as I’m concerned, if people want to make bad tasteless jokes, let them. I wondered, though, what the same group might have said if at a benefit for rape victims, a co-host in the role of an Alberta redneck joked that some women, perhaps Judy Rebick and Michele Landsberg, might be a …

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All Hail Mouth-breathers! http://www.htportal.org/all-hail-mouth-breathers/ http://www.htportal.org/all-hail-mouth-breathers/#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2015 15:49:11 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=45 mouth-breathSleeping is the best thing that a human can allow their body to do. Sleep replenishes your energy, allows your blood pressure to slow down and your heart to calm. It is great for mental refreshment as well. There are a lot of issues that can plague people while they are trying to sleep though. For instance, if you have an uncomfortable bed you probably won’t get a great nights’ sleep. You might toss and turn a lot which will interrupt your REM cycle and not allow your body to get that relaxation it needs. As well, if you have a lot of stress or you’re one of those people whose mind works a mile a minute just the act …

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mouth-breathSleeping is the best thing that a human can allow their body to do. Sleep replenishes your energy, allows your blood pressure to slow down and your heart to calm. It is great for mental refreshment as well. There are a lot of issues that can plague people while they are trying to sleep though. For instance, if you have an uncomfortable bed you probably won’t get a great nights’ sleep. You might toss and turn a lot which will interrupt your REM cycle and not allow your body to get that relaxation it needs. As well, if you have a lot of stress or you’re one of those people whose mind works a mile a minute just the act of falling asleep can be difficult. There’s also another big preventer of sleep: snoring. Whether you are the one who actually does the snoring the one who has to live with the snoring it’s not a nice environment and it can cause a lot of stress and problems.

But there are ways to circumvent snoring. There are many products on the market that are designed to help you alleviate snoring from special pillows to nasal strips to mouthpieces. Of course, not every single product is going to work for everyone and you really shouldn’t think that there is a cookie-cutter solution for the issue. Every single person is different so what works for your friend might not work for you. You need to consider your position when you sleep, the amount of sleep you’re getting and even the way you breathe when you sleep.
Most people are able to breathe through their noses whether they snore or not. For those people, anti-snoring mouthpieces are generally the way to go. Of course, if you are a mouth-breather that doesn’t mean your options are limited. This is where careful research will come into play and consideration for your own comfort. Mouthpieces have been proven to reduce or eliminate snoring and many of them have to undergo rigorous testing to be approved for sale by health authorities.

If you Google anti-snoring mouthpieces you will probably see a lot of pictures and products that look like a mouth guard that you wear when you sleep. At this point, all the mouth-breathers are probably thinking this is not for them. If you breathe through your mouth and this hunk of plastic blocks off that airway your snoring will probably get worse, right? Not necessarily. You need to look for those snoring mouthpieces that keep mouth-breathers in mind. They’re people too!

One of the better anti-snoring mouthpieces out there that does just this is the ZQuiet®. The way it is designed makes it very friendly for those who breathe through their mouths as they sleep. Instead of having a thick plastic mouthpiece that blocks off all airways and forces you to breathe through your nose the ZQuiet® is designed to have a hinge and allow air in through the mouth. Think of those fake vampire teeth you probably wore as a kid. Remember how they slid into your mouth and covered your teeth? The top was connected to the bottom so it still allowed you to talk and maybe drink something. The ZQuiet® is designed in much the same fashion; of course it is thicker and has other properties other than making your teeth look cool.

As one of the better mouthpieces on the market that is ranked highly for mouth-breathers and non-mouth-breathers alike you can’t really go wrong with investing in this product to help you curb your snoring issue. If you really want to, you could probably attach fake plastic vampire teeth to it to relive your childhood but I would really recommend it. The ZQuiet® is cool enough on its own.

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Writing Funny Cards Can Pay Off http://www.htportal.org/writing-funny-cards-can-pay-off/ http://www.htportal.org/writing-funny-cards-can-pay-off/#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2015 11:31:06 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=40 magazineWhen you sell an article to a magazine — or even research a market in hopes of selling to it — you’ve done everything a cartoonist would do, short of waiting a joke. If you know the editor well enough to make her think, you can probably make her laugh. With a few extra steps, why not tease extra income from your research by writing cartoons?

I’m a cartoonist, and when I approach a market — Air & Space Smithsonian, for example — I study it as any writer would. I read the articles and notice the ads. I research around the magazine and browse through popular-science books and journals. A few years ago, when Shoemaker and Levy announced …

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magazineWhen you sell an article to a magazine — or even research a market in hopes of selling to it — you’ve done everything a cartoonist would do, short of waiting a joke. If you know the editor well enough to make her think, you can probably make her laugh. With a few extra steps, why not tease extra income from your research by writing cartoons?

I’m a cartoonist, and when I approach a market — Air & Space Smithsonian, for example — I study it as any writer would. I read the articles and notice the ads. I research around the magazine and browse through popular-science books and journals. A few years ago, when Shoemaker and Levy announced that a train of comets would derail into Jupiter, I behaved as a writer: I made sure that no stray bits would hit my house, then I rallied the facts and submitted a proposal to the editor. Unlike a writer, however, my proposal was a cartoon, my text was a caption, and the editor laughed.

That’s the trick, of course. Humor is unpredictable. But you can sharpen its reliability with simple exercises. Here are a few proven paths to a gag:

* You Know Their Names. Celebrities, historical figures, fairy tale characters. They all have familiar attributes. Create situations that highlight them. If the cow jumps over the moon, for example, turn it into a cartoon about exercise. If “George Washington slept here,” place the sign on a bird house. If George Lucas is known for Star Wars, show him as a baby with toy spaceships hanging in his crib.

* Buzzwords. According to tech and computer hardware site Xantology.com, if you hear it in the news or in a general interest magazine, it’s a buzzword, a cliche in the making. “Power tie” becomes a guy with an electric drill looped around his neck (“The Power Tool Tie.”) The Information Highway leads to the Information Offramp. Generation X-ers become divorced 20-somethings in Generation Exs.

* Transposition. Take the familiar — a scene, action, phrase or character — and place it out of context. In The Cartoonist’s Muse, Mischa Richter shows a couple dining in the company of a violinist; a beat later the reader notices that the diners are seated on a stage in front of a concert audience. This switching about is probably the largest category of humor writing. A man walks his dog on a treadmill. A king’s throne becomes a recliner. Essentially, it’s this: Something you didn’t expect to see or hear in a particular context.

* The Pun. Forever despised, never to die. One of the easiest jokes to write, but tricky to sell because other writers have probably cashed a check on the same idea. The pun can be a homonym (scientists study a vibrating brownie for Brownie-in-motion), or a portmanteau (a scientist studies the speed of light in a hand-held vacuum).

* The Little/Big Switch. Charles Addams (who drew the cartoon that spawned The Addams Family) mastered this genre. One of my cartoons features a man five inches tall, waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Around the corner we see a tiny, dollsized table amidst the more typically proportioned ones. The maitre d’ says, “Your usual table, sir?”

Whichever technique you use, they all have one thing in common. To be funny, they must surprise.

Tooning the Gag

Once you have five or more ideas, you either draw the cartoons or sell them to a cartoonist.

Don’t dismiss the first option too quickly. Spend a day at a magazine rack and’ note the wide range of cartoon styles. You might discover that your work isn’t childish, but stylish. And, honestly, few cartoons sell because of the art. James Thurber’s simple style is revered, but I suspect it would be forgotten if it didn’t illustrate great ideas.

If time or inclination doesn’t allow you to draw, sell your ideas to cartoonists. Write or type your idea on an index card. Put your name, address and phone number on the back. But don’t exercise your keen powers of description and imaginative detail; leave the pictures to the cartoonist. For example, if you were proposing my tiny diner cartoon, your index card should not read: “A tiny man wearing a double-breasted, pin-striped suit walks into an Italian restaurant. There are candles in glass vases oh all of the tables. The tables are round, not rectangular, with plain white tablecloths. Pictures of landscapes are on the walls. Lighthouses, ships at sea. Some of the seated diners look at the tiny man, clearly surprised, while the maitre d’ with slicked-back hair and a carnation in his lapel smugly says …” Instead, you should write it as I described it earlier.

Also keep in mind the cartoonist’s style. If you sent me a wonderful idea featuring 100 convertibles stocked with scantily clad women, I’d have to pass for two reasons: I can’t draw cars, and my women characters aren’t the sort to dress immodestly. Before you submit, ask the cartoonist if there are things he or she shies from drawing.

Cartoonists pay their gagwriters an average of 25% of the cartoon’s eventual sale price (occasionally a bit more if you’re providing the artist an exclusive look at your work). As with articles or books, making the sale could take years. When it does happen, your share works out to between $5 and $75. Some cartoons sell repeatedly, so gagwriting is like buying stock, without the risk.

Two More Gagwriting Options

Another cartoonist looking for ideas is the one you see in the daily paper. If you’re reading Hagar or Blondie every morning, if you know their personalities as well as your own, write a week’s worth of strips and mail the script to the artist, in care of the cartoon’s distributing syndicate. Or contact the artist directly; many creators are now accessible online. (For syndicate names and addresses, see Editor & Publisher magazine’s annual Syndicate Directory issue.) Chances are that any cartoonist who’s been drawing a strip for more than ten years is considering freelance material.

How much you earn is up to the cartoonist — not the syndicate. I was once offered $50 (as a rough estimate) to write for a major strip. The pay is a flat fee.

A further stretch might be greeting cards. If you have a strong cartoon, think of an appropriate greeting for the inside — the so-called page three — copy For example, a cartoon I drew for a health magazine (a bald man with a ponytail on his head, as well as his posterior, with the caption, “Like many balding men, Bob compensates with a ponytail.”) became a card with this greeting as a woman-to-woman sentiment: “Unfortunately, if he really wanted to compensate, that was the wrong part of the horse.”

Pay for card ideas ranges from $50 to $150. Submit these ideas to greeting-card publishers as you would to a cartoonist; or go the extra 11″ and fold a sheet of copy paper in half to make a mock card, including a rough drawing (stick figures are fine). Write to the company first for guidelines.

It makes sense (and even a few dollars) to work with a cartoonist to tap a magazine’s funny bone. After all the hard work of market research, you’ve earned a laugh.

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Laughing For Straight Cash http://www.htportal.org/laughing-for-straight-cash/ http://www.htportal.org/laughing-for-straight-cash/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2015 11:24:08 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=35 laughingforstarightAlthough they don’t like to admit it, even hit TV shows will crank up the response to a so-so joke with an extra chuckle here, a war whoop there. Notes Walter Barnett, former producer of the ABC sitcom Spin City, “People don’t seem to think sitcoms are as funny if they don’t have a laugh track. This is purely anecdoted. I can’t give you any science.” Ah, but scientists can: Ever since the first laugh track appeared on a television sitcom in 1950, social scientists have confirmed that canned laughs (today available on CD) encourage laughter and actually make people feel as though the material is funnier. Weirder still–but good news to sitcom producers–laughter by itself, even in the absence …

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laughingforstarightAlthough they don’t like to admit it, even hit TV shows will crank up the response to a so-so joke with an extra chuckle here, a war whoop there. Notes Walter Barnett, former producer of the ABC sitcom Spin City, “People don’t seem to think sitcoms are as funny if they don’t have a laugh track. This is purely anecdoted. I can’t give you any science.” Ah, but scientists can: Ever since the first laugh track appeared on a television sitcom in 1950, social scientists have confirmed that canned laughs (today available on CD) encourage laughter and actually make people feel as though the material is funnier. Weirder still–but good news to sitcom producers–laughter by itself, even in the absence …

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Laughing Cures All, But Can Cut As Well http://www.htportal.org/laughing-cures-all-but-can-cut-as-well/ http://www.htportal.org/laughing-cures-all-but-can-cut-as-well/#respond Sat, 10 Oct 2015 10:47:59 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=30 laughingcuresallIt’s a funny thing: Laughter eases stress–and helps fight all kinds of ailments. Another funny thing: The way you laugh–and what sets you off–can be very revealing.

Things were going well–too well, I thought, as I nervously picked at my salad. Normally, when I went on a blind date (this was before I was married), I made sure I knew all the bad news up front. But my friend Kate had only enthused about my date’s good points. So far, she’d been fight: I was having dinner with a rakishly handsome, impeccably groomed, obviously intelligent man. By the time we got to the main course, I was praying he liked me.

And then he laughed.

It was not like any …

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laughingcuresallIt’s a funny thing: Laughter eases stress–and helps fight all kinds of ailments. Another funny thing: The way you laugh–and what sets you off–can be very revealing.

Things were going well–too well, I thought, as I nervously picked at my salad. Normally, when I went on a blind date (this was before I was married), I made sure I knew all the bad news up front. But my friend Kate had only enthused about my date’s good points. So far, she’d been fight: I was having dinner with a rakishly handsome, impeccably groomed, obviously intelligent man. By the time we got to the main course, I was praying he liked me.

And then he laughed.

It was not like any …

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Cancer Doesn’t Get Him Down http://www.htportal.org/cancer-doesnt-get-him-down/ http://www.htportal.org/cancer-doesnt-get-him-down/#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:33:38 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=25 cancerJonathan Ferguson is the kind of problem-solver who tackles a challenge head-on-even when he has every right to be inactive.

Ferguson, 37, a vice president of technology for the Members Choice Credit Union in Ashland, Ky., became a cancer patient at the new Taussig Cancer Center at the Cleveland Clinic, where he stumbled upon a shortcoming of the high-tech outpatient facility.

“The center has 60 individual treatment rooms, each equipped with a combination TV/VCR,” Ferguson says. “But they only had a handful of movies for patients to watch during their treatments.”

So Ferguson, who was diagnosed in March with acute lymphocytic leukemia and completed a bone marrow transplant in July, kicked off a video donation drive. Friends and family …

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cancerJonathan Ferguson is the kind of problem-solver who tackles a challenge head-on-even when he has every right to be inactive.

Ferguson, 37, a vice president of technology for the Members Choice Credit Union in Ashland, Ky., became a cancer patient at the new Taussig Cancer Center at the Cleveland Clinic, where he stumbled upon a shortcoming of the high-tech outpatient facility.

“The center has 60 individual treatment rooms, each equipped with a combination TV/VCR,” Ferguson says. “But they only had a handful of movies for patients to watch during their treatments.”

So Ferguson, who was diagnosed in March with acute lymphocytic leukemia and completed a bone marrow transplant in July, kicked off a video donation drive. Friends and family …

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Misc Chuckles http://www.htportal.org/misc-chuckles/ http://www.htportal.org/misc-chuckles/#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:18:09 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=22 miscchucklesAshley Cowan’s story is also more than just about an athletic feat. When she was just 18 months old, her limbs were amputated below the elbows and knees after she survived a near-fatal bout of meningitis. Her condition was initially diagnosed as a fever, but her mother, Shurlene, sought a second, and then a third opinion. Cowan was sent by ambulance to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and, on the way, her heart stopped for 15 minutes. By the time she was resuscitated by paramedics, gangrene had set into her limbs.

Her disability has not stopped her. Cowan competed as a figure skater until, at age 8, she watched news coverage of distance swimmer Vicki Keith crossing the Great Lakes. …

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miscchucklesAshley Cowan’s story is also more than just about an athletic feat. When she was just 18 months old, her limbs were amputated below the elbows and knees after she survived a near-fatal bout of meningitis. Her condition was initially diagnosed as a fever, but her mother, Shurlene, sought a second, and then a third opinion. Cowan was sent by ambulance to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and, on the way, her heart stopped for 15 minutes. By the time she was resuscitated by paramedics, gangrene had set into her limbs.

Her disability has not stopped her. Cowan competed as a figure skater until, at age 8, she watched news coverage of distance swimmer Vicki Keith crossing the Great Lakes. …

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Get Funny. Quickly. http://www.htportal.org/get-funny-quickly/ http://www.htportal.org/get-funny-quickly/#respond Mon, 28 Sep 2015 09:40:27 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=17 americanssenYou’ve read a lot about the art of memoir, about the power of telling a story from the personal point of view. Despite my well-known prejudices against injecting yourself into your nonfiction, I want to fess up to yet another area – besides the obvious example of memoirs – where putting yourself in the story pays off.

It’s humor. As is always noted by my friends at Project Vibe, if you seek to poke fun, there’s no better or funnier target than yourself. Even if your true aim is to satirize some foible in society, making yourself ostensibly the butt of the joke is the best way to get a laugh while making your point.

Think about how Dave …

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americanssenYou’ve read a lot about the art of memoir, about the power of telling a story from the personal point of view. Despite my well-known prejudices against injecting yourself into your nonfiction, I want to fess up to yet another area – besides the obvious example of memoirs – where putting yourself in the story pays off.

It’s humor. As is always noted by my friends at Project Vibe, if you seek to poke fun, there’s no better or funnier target than yourself. Even if your true aim is to satirize some foible in society, making yourself ostensibly the butt of the joke is the best way to get a laugh while making your point.

Think about how Dave …

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Writing Funny: Not Easy, Believe Me http://www.htportal.org/writing-funny-not-easy-believe-me/ http://www.htportal.org/writing-funny-not-easy-believe-me/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 07:01:46 +0000 http://www.htportal.org/?p=11 writingfunnyYOU WON’T BECOME a humor writer just by following a set of rules. People become humor writers because they can’t help themselves. But if that’s your bent, you might find that these suggestions–gleaned from my years of experience as a humorist–provide some encouragement and direction.

1 Never write about real-life humor. Every so often, I will receive a letter that goes something like this: “We were all going fishing down at the river, and my Uncle Ed, he says he’s going to walk a log to get to the other side. Well, about halfway across, Uncle Ed hits a slick patch, his legs shoot out from under him, and he goes right in the river. We laughed ourselves sick. You …

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writingfunnyYOU WON’T BECOME a humor writer just by following a set of rules. People become humor writers because they can’t help themselves. But if that’s your bent, you might find that these suggestions–gleaned from my years of experience as a humorist–provide some encouragement and direction.

1 Never write about real-life humor. Every so often, I will receive a letter that goes something like this: “We were all going fishing down at the river, and my Uncle Ed, he says he’s going to walk a log to get to the other side. Well, about halfway across, Uncle Ed hits a slick patch, his legs shoot out from under him, and he goes right in the river. We laughed ourselves sick. You …

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