Day 10: Embracing the Embarrassing
Liz Alterman on embracing the embarrassing and unexpected
Welcome to day 10 of One Funny Line. Friendly reminder that if you have not been receiving emails for the challenge and you want to, you might need to turn on notifications for the humor challenge section (click the button next to the humor challenge section here).
Today’s prompt comes from author and Substacker, who writes both thrillers and humor (something we discussed a while back).
Self-deprecating humor is my favorite brand. But I also love when a line veers off in an unexpected direction and catches you by surprise.
A funny one-liner I adore, which I think brings these two elements together nicely, is this: “One more drink and I’d have been under the host.” (This zinger is often attributed to American writer and critic Dorothy Parker though others debate the veracity of that claim.)
When someone is able to laugh at themselves and isn’t afraid to point out their foibles or quirks in an entertaining way, I find them infinitely more likable. And chances are, whatever they’re poking fun at about themselves is probably pretty relatable.
Many of my humor pieces begin with me feeling awkward about something and wondering, “Is it weird that I…”
For example, I once hurt my neck by holding a phone to my ear for what didn’t seem like too long a stretch. I started making fun of the fact that since turning 40, I’d started to injure myself in bizarre ways, like simply having a phone conversation. I mean, it’s embarrassing when you’ve let yourself go to the point that holding your six-ounce device for 30 minutes brings on tendonitis.
I thought that concept might be a good jumping off point for a funny listicle. Based on readers’ social media comments, it turned out I wasn’t alone in my strangely-acquired, midlife ailments.
Also from the “Is it weird that I…” files, I once wrote a humorous essay about wanting to ask my employer for family leave after adopting a cat.
Combining the quirky with the unexpected: This summer, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Italy. As I was packing up to return to New Jersey, I thought to myself: When most people leave Rome, they want to bring back wine, leather handbags, maybe even olive oil. Me? I want to smuggle home the hotel’s bidet.
Embarrassing? Maybe. Unexpected? Yes. Funny? I hope so. The more people I told, the more responded, “I’d kill for a bidet!”
For today’s prompt, write a funny one-liner about something that you feel weird or embarrassed about that’s also probably pretty relatable and hilarious. If you can phrase it in a way that’s surprising and unexpected, even better!
I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Liz Alterman is the author of a domestic suspense novel, The Perfect Neighborhood, a young adult thriller, He’ll Be Waiting, and a memoir, Sad Sacked. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and other outlets. She spends most days microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms.
Did you get your one funny line in? Feel free to check in in the chat.
Humor Me is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.