Turn Horror into Humor

europe 2011 443

St. Petersburg, Russia
July 2011

I put an unusual spin on my first published story that earned a paycheck.

It happened that our car was stolen—the third time this “horror” had happened to us over the years. Three different cars, three different locations, three different outcomes.

The trauma of living in the suburbs without a car can be overwhelming, but I didn’t want to write about the despicable people who steal or the inconveniences of arranging for rides or the cost of renting a car, so I turned the story around. What is humorous about having your car stolen?

The empathy we received from friends, family and neighbors lifted our spirits and helped us through the ordeal, and that’s what inspired the humorous side. People offered not only to pick up our children for their activities, but offered to get our groceries, take us where we wanted to go and even lend us their cars.

My focal point? How confident we became because of other people’s generosity.

1)      Having our car stolen was an ice-breaker. At gatherings I could say, “Hi, my car was stolen,” which elicited questions and gave me a chance to explain.

2)      Having our children taken to all their activities, gave my husband and me a chance to spend more time together.

3)      Using other people’s cars gave us a chance to evaluate the features in models we never considered. I wrote, “After a while, we were choosey about what options were in the cars we borrowed.” And later, “We were just getting used to all these extras when our own car was found. To be honest, we were disappointed. Our first reaction was not to claim the car. Being car-free had made us carefree.”

Other examples:

There is nothing funny about death, but in the comedy “The Hangover, Part III,” Alan (Zach Galifianakis) eulogizes  his father, his best friend, by saying he would rather have seen someone else die, for instance, his mother. It’s a horrible statement, but it’s funny and true to Alan’s character.

Recently, the assistant pastor at our church talked of being stopped for speeding. After he and the officer discussed the situation, the priest said, “I was let off with a warning, and the officer was let off with three Hail Mary’s.”

Horror to humor. Try it.

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I’ve been a professional freelance writer for several years and specialize in writing feature stories. I have more than a 1,000 bylines to my credit and have written on countless topics from autism to zoology. My columns on fashion and the Internet appeared in a Chicago area newspaper in the 90s. “Brunswick Buzz,” the column in The Sun News, the Myrtle Beach, S.C. daily, ran for seven years then “Events on the North Strand” took over in October 2013, also in The Sun News.

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