Written by Garry Berman
Ever since I can remember, the writing I’ve wanted to do, and have enjoyed writing the most, is humor and comedy.
Starting To Write
I began my first attempts at writing humorous stories in childhood. Whenever an elementary school teacher would give the class a short writing assignment, I’d try to think of something that would make her laugh, or at least smile, as she read it. I don’t know why, but even as a seven or eight-year-old, this was very important to me. After handing in my story and returning to my desk, I’d watch her intently as she sat and read it. If my writing got a smile or chuckle out of her, I considered this a thrilling victory. I simply continued to write silly little stories and sketches ever since, if only for my own amusement, or that of my friends and family.
I also took more writing courses in college and beyond than I can remember. I don’t know to what degree any of those adult school classes and expensive seminars actually helped, but whenever I get an idea for a character, story, or sketch that, to me, seems comical, I explore it.
I began to write screenplays, as well; most of which have never seen the light of day, nor deserve to, but at the time I wrote them, I thought at least the premise of each was quite good, if not always the execution of it. I still feel that way about some of them, and have even made the effort with them to fix the weak spots and give the better sections even more comedic punch. Alas, struggling to get the attention of literary agents or others who deal with screenplays proved soul-crushing. And my soul has always been easily crushed.
Why Don’t You Write A Novel?
All the while, my late father would periodically ask me, ”Why don’t you write a novel?” The simple answer was that I didn’t know how to write a novel. And I didn’t have the patience to follow all of the rules about character development, backstory, narrative technique, etc. etc.
But I wrote one anyway, titled Old Wave. It helped that I had by then discovered Amazon’s Createspace platform (now Kindle Direct Publishing), which allowed me to write and self-publish my work without having to grovel and defend my existence to agents and publishers.
Finding A Writing Partner
I also found a friend and collaborator with whom to share this painfully solitary activity. She is Kelly Marie Thompson, born and living near Newcastle, England. Long story short, we met online, discovered our mutual love of writing (especially comedy), and began swapping bits of dialogue we had written on our own. Her writing style fit perfectly with my own, and so we began to collaborate, e-mailing our work back & forth for each other to review, edit, and tweak.
We co-wrote a situation comedy, Barkers-Upon-Tyne, about three young adult siblings reluctantly living with each other and interfering with each other’s jobs and love lives. We wrote a pilot episode, submitted it to the BBC first, then a few contests, and we did rather well, with a Top 10 place in one major competition.. We decided to write six episodes and publish them ourselves—reasoning that even if the series never gets produced, it will still ”exist,” and be available for anyone to order and read for themselves.
We then co-wrote a comic novel set against the backdrop of the Beatlemania era, titled From Me To You, in which a teenage penpals (a boy in New Jersey and girl in Liverpool) share their love of the Beatles with each other, while their correspondence blossoms into much more than just a long-distance friendship. Again, we self-published.
We then went to work on a screenplay, Date My Boyfriend, in which a bride-to-be sends her fiance and her bridesmaid—who can’t stand each other—on an activity-filled weekend without her, demanding that the two return as friends, or else. Their ensuing adventures nearly get them killed, more than once.
Gathering Stories Together
Not long after, I decided to gather most of my lifetime of short comic writings into a collection, titled Why Are You Telling Me This?, which includes some pieces that date back to 1980 or so, as well as several that were written up to and including this past year. The rest fall in-between along the timeline. The comic pieces have nothing at all to do with each other, or with anything else for that matter.
One piece has friends in a deli speaking Old Testament-style English to each other, another follows Edgar Allen Poe as he shops for a lawnmower, another is a murder mystery set in a 1920s vaudeville theatre. They are written in various styles and formats; some are only a page long, while others are considerably longer, all the result of me pursuring comic ideas as they come to me, and testing to see if they ”work” or not.
I deliberately do not tackle any grandiose, philosophical themes dealing with the meaning of human existence. The pieces are simply meant to entertain, and I write each one, as silly or as frivolous as it may be, with great care. And, as I wrote I the Introduction, ”if just one of the writings in this collection succeeds in making just one reader laugh…then I’ve done a lousy job.”
My Latest Work
My most recently completed and self-published work is in script format, a six-episode sitcom, Captain Oblivious Retires, in which a very mediocre and somewhat cynical superhero retires early to a Florida community, ready for a life of drinking Pina Coladas on his hammock, when his peace is shattered by the arrival of his new protégé– a perky, gorgeous, blonde, teenage girl who is excited to have him teach her the skills every superhero needs. It’s a requirement for retired superheroes to train their replacements, so their teacher/student relationship begins. And, as they say, hijinks ensues.
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