Finding the Funny When You’re Drowning in Melodrama


DISCLAIMER: Whether the following is amusing and/or useful is entirely up for debate.

The ability to express oneself, I think most of us can agree, is all too dependent on mood. Especially if you’re aiming for a specific tone. Those whose wheelhouse is death and human misery might stumble in the light of a happy personal life; anyone all about bemused agreeability is going to suffer when they’re feeling anything but. Jolly sadists! Sad clowns! The world is obviously a coldly ironic place.

Not to mention a terrifying one.

But what’s a student of the written word to do when they’re not properly outfitted for the task at hand, WAIT IT OUT? NO! It’s when you’re at your least comfortable, your most angsty, that it’s more important than ever to convert those icky Zach Braff emotions into positive creative fuel. Remember the scene from ‘Waterworld’ where Kevin Costner waters his plant with filtered pee-water? That’s what we’re going to learn how to do today, and it will probably make just as little sense. SO:

1) Make a Venn Diagram.
Venn Diagrams are generally only professionally useful in throwaway Vulture articles, but as a traveling companion from Sad to Happy Town can be a great help! In one circle, pick a topic (reader’s choice!) and list some things relevant to that topic. In the adjacent circle, pick a completely opposite, or unrelated topic. For example: “Breaking Bad characters” and “Glee covers”. “Occupy Wall Street signs” and “Hi-C Flavors.” (The world is a vast buffet from which to choose, and you are limited only by your sense of decorum.) This last part is the most fun, where you look for the moments at which these two disparate circles meet. If you’re not laughing, that means you are doing it wrong and should START OVER.

2) Consider the absolute worst possible situation in which you could find yourself, then compare to reality.
Arguably similar to the Venn Diagram suggestion above for the way it’s all about comparison, this activity doesn’t require a sharpie. (Quick and effective!) Are you homeless? Was your Netflix account accidentally suspended? Did your dad just get re-married…to the mother of your Clarinet 1 rival from high school? If none of these things is true, then you should stop crying and get back to work. You don’t have it so bad! Those hypothetical people have it so much worse, especially the one without Netflix.

3) Draw mustaches on everything.
Or better yet don’t, save yourself some time (whimsy is a known efficiency-killer), and consider instead all the funny words you could have written: “Fart.” “Gigolo.” “Boner.” Be an adult about this, for Christ’s sake.

4) Watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

If the history report stylings of Wyld Stallyns don’t help you see the humorous beauty of life, I really doubt that the rest of this post has done or will do anything to change that. You are free to continue your melodramatic spiraling.

5) Remind yourself how unattractive “woe is me” is, both literally and figuratively.
Literally: You’re about a stray comment away from just destroying a full pizza or pint of Ben & Jerry’s (or a pack of Marlboro Lights and Two Buck Chuck, depending), both of which you’re convinced will make you feel better. But have you considered the increased gastrointestinal stress to follow? Or the way you appear to others? Figuratively: no one really likes the cartoon ‘Cathy’.

6) Put everything that’s causing you pain and anxiety into a box — it’s important that this be a real box — and set it on fire.
Figurative fires are no fun at all. Real fires on the other hand (shy of flat-out arson, anyway) conjure the storytelling traditions of great ancient societies, pirate gatherings, and sleepaway camps, with the added bonus of being awesome and therapeutic to set. There is perhaps nothing inherently funny about conflagration, but you will definitely feel better — step one toward reclaiming your throne of mild amusement. Just remember: a fire extinguisher here isn’t the worst idea.

7) Go for a run. In running clothes.
Just look at yourself. Then look at other runner’s outfits; their strained expressions of physical exertion. Maybe there are also rollerbladers and urban skiers on your path? Remind yourself that whatever force governs the universe, He/it has at least a decent sense of humor.

And already you’re a) feeling better about your place in the world and b) armed to the teeth with stupid sh*t to write about until your next manic episode. Live long and prosper!

Tomorrow: recapping season four of The OC

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3 Responses to “Finding the Funny When You’re Drowning in Melodrama”

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