These things must be done delicately (J)

Humor – like beauty and the best choice in upholstery fabric – is often in the eye of the beholder. I have committed humor enough times to know that some people just don’t see it. As my friend Bob Langford used to say, sometimes a writer should insert (J) next to the funny stuff to give the humor impaired a hint. (If you are really humor impaired and have to ask, J is for “joke.”)

And other times, (J) doesn’t work. Because the writing really isn’t that funny.

Exhibit A: this in The News & Observer today. From the cliched headline to the ignorant catalog of every tired stereotype about Southern food, it’s lame. Yeah, yeah, I know – I should say what I really think. As The Hub always says, “You have so few opinions, dear, and you are so loathe to express them.”

I did think before commenting on this column. There have been cases where I wrote something that I thought was funny or funny but biting, only to get comments from readers that made me wonder if they’d read the same piece. But I don’t think that I just “didn’t get it” here.

It’s not that the column criticizes Southern food. There’s plenty to criticize – mock, even – about Southern food. That we would feed our infants bacon-flavored formula if we could get it, for starters.

But, as the Wicked Witch of the West said, it’s how to do it. That’s where the magic of writing comes in. Oh, yes, I know how difficult it is to conjure that magic. But I hope that I have never resorted to beating my subject with a shillelagh, and hope I never will.


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4 Responses to “These things must be done delicately (J)”

  • Comment from Anne Saker

    My guess, dear Debbie, is that this is a very, very, VERY young person who doesn’t know much about anything all, much less food. She will regret having written such juvenile drivel.

    Now, pass me those sausage biscuits xoxoxox

  • Comment from June

    I was really offended by that column. I was also offended that the N&O ran it. Maybe it’s funny in Wisconsin.

  • Comment from cb

    I completely agree. I had the same reaction as I read it. Thanks for setting her straight.

  • Comment from Beth K.

    I agree with June – the whole thing was just offensive. Not funny even one little bit, and I’ve got a pretty wide-open sense of humor! Besides, it was obvious to me that she’s never even tried grits, because (as we all know) they have absolutely nothing in common with oatmeal or cream of wheat. It’s CORN, stupid!

    If the N&O is that hard up for decent columnists, maybe they should stop laying off all their employees!

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