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Funny is hard

My ire was raised by the results of an interview I had thought would result in a tribute to my late friend Russell Shaw. Instead Matt Richel made it plain he aimed to claim blogging killed Russell, which was so crazy I began to laugh.

Matt Richtel, The New York Times
Humor is the hardest card for a writer to play.

It's no coincidence that the greatest humorist in American history, Mark Twain, was also its greatest writer.

I'm no Mark Twain. I'm not even Adam Felber. But sometimes my anger can inspire me to satire, as in the 15th most popular item posted here during the year, Does Open Source Programming Make You a Criminal?

My ire was raised by the results of an interview I had thought would result in a tribute to my late friend Russell Shaw. Instead Matt Richel (above) made it plain he aimed to claim blogging killed Russell, which was so crazy I began to laugh.

Writing was as natural to Russell as breathing. It's a passion we shared. The only retirement for a real writer is a pine box, I thought. Russell has retired to Florida.

Then I began to write.

Many open source critics have accused it of being intellectual property theft, so I just ran with that idea, coming up with some off-the-wall thoughts that might equate open source with crime.

I'm not going to pretend it was any Jumping Frog, but it did draw 144 talkbacks from interested readers, some of whom missed the <satire> and </satire> tags I put at the top and bottom of the piece.

Not only is humor hard, I learned from these responses, but it does not travel well either. For two people to agree something is funny, they require the same frame of reference.

This point was illustrated by one of Jerry Seinfeld's better commercials, an American Express bit where he spent money learning about England so he could be funny there.

I'll try to leave humor to the experts in the future, but you never know. Stay tuned.