A Time to Laugh (or at least sneer in derision)

jonathan swift

by John Ellis

Prior to A Day in His Court, I had a blog that was a mishmash of competing tone and content. The posts veered widely between the serious and the humorous – at least, attempted to be humorous. Satirical posts were paired on the front page with heart-pouring memoir posts. On one hand, blogs don’t have to have a unified tone; on the other hand, my experience taught me that readers have expectations that can be confounded by wide swings of tone and voice. I found that my attempts at satire were either taken seriously[1] or confused some readers. More importantly, I found that the pendulum swung the opposite direction more often than I would like. At times, it was assumed that I was far less serious than I actually was. Taking those lessons, I divided my voice into two separate blogs – A Day in His Court reflecting, of course, my desire to have serious, though hopefully winsome and, at least at times, funny, conversations about topics that I care about. However, if it weren’t for my other blog, that constraint would’ve cut me off from a large part of my voice.

Several years ago, a good friend of mine related a conversation that he and a Starbuck’s barista had about me. My friend, upon discovering that this barista did improv, mentioned that he had a good friend who did improv, too. The barista asked who it was, and, upon hearing my name, said, “John Ellis? He’s not funny.” My friend had no way of knowing how much that anecdote hurt when he told it to me[2].

I mention that painful moment of personal history to highlight how important making people laugh is for me. The vast majority of my Facebook activity exists for the sole purpose of prompting chuckles. I actually love performing improv as much as I love performing serious drama. And, if the provoked laughter helps prompt thought as well, all the better. Going back to my previous split-personality blog, people have expectations, and expectations can be confounded. I learned that having over-the-top satirical posts on top of memoir confessions diluted the power of both. That’s why, when I hit the blogging reset button, I created two blogs – one to provide a platform for dialogue unencumbered by at-times-head-scratching laughter, and a second blog to provide myself an outlet to match the absurdity that I see around me.

That second blog is titled Snipes and can be found here. The posts range from refutations of Snopes’ articles, like this post in which I warn people that the Beanie Baby danger is worse than originally thought, to lists, one of which I explain why the use of Xmas in place of Christmas should be discouraged. Many of the posts are social commentaries in the form, or at least the intended form, of satire. Some of the topics that I’ve tackled on Snipes include unschooling, transgenderism, and the Grow Food not Lawns movement.

The readers of my two blogs don’t have a lot of overlap, yet. I would like to see that change. Hopefully some of the readers of A Day in His Court will find my posts on Snipes both funny and thought provoking. If so, please share the posts with your social media friends. One plus to Snipes, you won’t have to put up with my irritating footnotes.

[1] I would love to point out that people took Jonathan Swift seriously, too, but I’m not that arrogant.

[2] Minus my tears, of course.


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