I may not be the premiere humor writer on the planet, but I’ve written a post or two that’s been published on the Internet and even authored a book about the plight of Baby Boomers facing the age they always thought was exclusively reserved for people’s parents.
But today I am facing an inconvenient truth.
Please someone: I need a course in how to write millennial!
Just as styles in clothing, automobiles, and music evolve, styles of humor have changed and evolved as well.
I was born in the Milton Berle era of the 1950’s when Uncle Miltie got laughs just by putting on a dress. Then came the “Here’s Johnny” era, and I loved staying up late with Carnac the Great, the Tee Time Movie, and the slick banter purveyed by grinning Johnny Carson with folk like Sammy Davis, Steve & Eydie, Mr. Warmth Don Rickles, and other show biz luminaries of the day.
As I trotted off to college, humor morphed again with the emergence of social and political commentary from the likes of Robert Klein, David Steinberg, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and (like him or not) Woody Allen, all of whom were perfect to get stoned to and marvel at our very hipness with.
Seemed just an eye blink later and David Letterman — a guy considered so off beat at the time, he was passed over for host of the all-American Tonight Show — ruled the CBS eye with his top ten lists, tossing bowling balls off the top of buildings, and his patented “it’s so stupid it’s funny brand of comedy.”
And I was totally down with all of this.
I began writing humor in my late thirties on an old Royal typewriter penning mostly self-deprecating first person pieces, social satire and political parody in an amalgam of the various styles I’d loved all my life. Carson, Carlin, and Mr. Allen were special and favored influences, and some of these pieces were printed in publications pre-Internet era.
Later, fully armed with a PC, I innovated the Human Resources Comedy Troupe, an SNL-type review for HR professionals which performed comedy sketches like Sam Meritor, Anti-Harassment Private Eye and What if the Lone Ranger Hired a Jewish Companion Instead of Tonto? and of course, Top Ten Lists like “Top Ten Worst Employer Firing Lines,” “Top Ten Signs You’ve Hired the Wrong Labor Lawyer,” and “Top Ten Signs You’re an HR Workaholic.”
And then in 2010 I discovered the magical potentiality of blogs, and since that time I’ve written 900 parodies, satires, and first person pieces partaking of many modern comedic influences, and though every post is hardly comedy nirvana, none has ever been critiqued as being the American Gothic or Walter Brennan of Internet humor.
Then the millennials cometh.
And bringeth with them a plethora of hip millennial sites like McSweeneys and yes, Medium, and many others that I have as much success regularly getting into as getting myself into a late model Lamborghini.
What is millennial humor?
If I could describe it I could probably write it.
For one thing, no millennial is ever going to author posts with names like:
The Man Who Looks Like my Grandfather, Mind Very Much if She Smokes, or One Last Bedtime Story, all of which are titles of chapters in my book.
Millennials author posts with names like:
WHAT YOUR FAVORITE GRUNGE BAND SAYS ABOUT YOU
15 UNIQUE THINGS YOU COULD SAY TO JAMES JOYCE IF YOU MET HIM ON BLOOMSDAY ON YOUR WAY HOME FROM A FESTIVAL OF WES ANDERSON MOVIES ABOUT PASSOVER,
IF RILKE WERE YOUR FAMILY PHYSICIAN, HOW WOULD YOU RATE HIM ON YELP?
I hope that clears it up for you non-millennials out there.
So why do I care? Why does it matter as long as there’s still folks around who like to read the humor I understand and can often write?
Hell, I just don’t want to accept the fact that hip humor is now passing me by, just as it did all the others. I don’t wanna be the American Gothic or Walter Brennan of Internet comedy!
So, please someone: I need a course in how to write millennial!
Until then, I’ll be over here in the corner, putting on a dress.