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Word For Word

9/24/06

 

My daughter, Alexis, was watching Comedy Central and called to me to join her.  I sat down, looked at the screen, listened to the first joke and was immediately enthralled.  Well, enthralled to the point I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.  I hung on every word this guy said. 

 

“Who is this?”  I asked her.

 

“Mitch Hedberg,” she replied, obviously pleased I finally liked someone she recommended. 

 

We sat through his routine in stitches—the kind of good stitches that repair the mind, heart and soul.  The kind of stitches no hospital can provide.

 

As he was winding down, I asked if he would be playing at any clubs near us. 

 

“He died.  Didn’t you know that?”

 

Well, no I hadn’t known.  And the really strange thing was I instantly mourned.  I felt as if I’d lost a friend, yet I’d never met him and up until the start of listening to his stand-up routine, had never heard of him.  Yet, I’d found a kindred spirit in a man young enough to be my son.

 

If you don’t know Mitch Hedberg’s work, it’s time to pick up a CD or one of his few recorded DVDs and just enjoy.  Yes, the language is a little raw at times, but if you can get past that, you will laugh years off your life (there is a reason, you know, that a sage came up “laughter is the best medicine”). 

 

And what exactly makes Mitch Hedberg’s stuff funny?  Well, first is the material itself.  Observations about real life, how we live life—both as individuals and as a society.  Stringing along a series of non sequiturs at breakneck speed…comments that bounce from escalators never really breaking because when they do, they become…stairs (“Sorry for the convenience”) to non-participating McDonald’s (“Cheeseburgers?”  Nope, don’t got ‘em.  We sell spaghetti.  And blankets.”) to irritating race car passengers (“Why we gotta go around in circles so much?”  “You sure like Tide!”). 

 

But it’s more than just the observations.  It’s Mitch’s delivery, his cadence, his flow.  The way he speeds through some syllables, yet draws out others in a remarkably unique and loping manner.  Above all, the subject matter is daily life and perceptions of things that may have fleetingly occurred to us at one time, but were never pursued to fruition in classic Hedberg style.

 

So, what does Mitch Hedberg and his style of humor and humorous delivery have to do with greeting card writing?  Well, as my students and readers can attest, I constantly make the comparison between the cards of 50 years ago and the cards of today…the difference between “seltzer in your pants/take my wife, please take my wife” humor (and I use the term humor here lightly) and today’s verses that concentrate on life in all its glory and all its foibles. 

 

Besides the actual subject matter, cadence and flow are vital to the written verse; knowing that the punch line is often the inside line (but not always) and leading into that punch line with panache and flair.   And being able to listen to Mitch’s observations that get the longest, loudest, most sustained laughter is an invaluable gauge in reading just what people relate to—the thread that connects us all. 

 

I’ve since discovered there are many Mitch Hedberg fans out there.  Many are like me—heard him for the first time and became instant, devoted fans.  Even though he’s gone, his humor still has the power to make us laugh.  I’ll never eat a cracker or see a pineapple Lifesaver or drink a Mr. Pibb or think of slip covers (you’ll just have to listen to his CD to get the references) without him crossing my mind.

 

He communicated his vision of the world so very splendidly.  We, as verse writers, must try constantly to do the same—whether through our humor or our softer, contemporary prose.  Our  common humanity shows up the most through laughter. 

 

With Mitch Hedberg, people tend to laugh a lot.  Or, as Mitch would've said..."You'll either love me.  Or hate me.  Or you'll think I'm okay."

 

And that’s my Word For Word.

 

I spoke to some particularly bright children at the Grantsville Public Library in Grantsville Maryland on September 12th.  I’ve found children are very visual and since many of today’s greeting cards depend on a solid interaction between verse and visual to get the message across, we were definitely on the same page.  Thinking of sheep that said “Baaahhhh” and cows that go “Mooooo” were only starters.  We looked at pictures of lions that may have been singing, laughing, crying or saying “Aaahhhh” for the doctor and matched sendable occasions accordingly.  I think we may have added some new, young writers to the greeting card industry.

 

I’m also putting the finishing touches on a verse writing contest we’re sponsoring here at Greeting Card Writing dot Com and you’ll be hearing more about that soon.  In addition, I was checking over my website stats last night and was reminded again of all the countries that visit here.  We’ll have a new page soon saluting each country and asking people from these countries who check into the site to give us some perspectives on greeting cards in their respective countries.

 

More cards are coming soon in our Under The White Hot Spot feature and we’ll post a new interview as well on our Getting To Know You page.  I constantly receive emails from students who are selling their work and we want to get the word out—there is work out there—creative, happy, fun work that is very rewarding, not only spiritually, but monetarily as well.

 

You’ll see there are dozens of new affiliates posted throughout the site.  Please continue to check them out—click on them and if any of their products interest you, please buy through their link on this site.  Again, this site is free to you, but it’s not without cost to me.  We appreciate any and all support and anything we do receive goes right back into the site.  We’ll be adding a cross-reference page to the site so you can see which pages contain which affiliates.

 

The first day of fall was yesterday, yet the leaves have been turning—and dropping—for some time now. The much-touted “nip” has definitely been in the air.  I had a birthday on the 18th—which I share with Greta Garbo, Frankie Avalon, Jack Warden and Phyllis Kirk (she played in TV’s The Thin Man during the 1950s).  So, in that pleasant company, I turned a modest 30 (not really)—well, 30 + 26 and there you are!

 

Take good care and keep emailing.  I love to hear from you.

 

Sandra


 

 


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