I thought I'd start with meeting John Warner of McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He's a very nice guy, which as I said before, I sorta figured based on my experience with my 0-4 record in submitting there. (I'm not the worst; apparently one person has an 0-247 record, or some such incredible number). I will now be prepared to be horribly crushed though, in the event of future rejections, since I possess the keys to sure-fire comedic writing in the McSweeney's tradition.
The major epiphany was that I haven't been sending the right kind of material - big surprise, huh (!) - but now I know for sure what it is I need to send, that is if I wish to be published there. That is, when and if I ever write it.
Key word: Conceptual humor! In essence, start with the premise, the what-if, the zany situation and let the story tell itself from there. With a good premise, why even George Bush could seem funny because the concept does the work!
Another thing he pointed out, like an elephant in the living room, is that even the title will explain that concept, the conceit, right out of the box. Take a look at the pieces published at McSweeney's, and you'll find it's true. And of course, there are the FAQs containing a built-in straight-man, in the form of the question, and Open Letters where conflict and tension are inherent in the combinations of unlikely suspects you throw together.
Check out some recent titles:
"ANTICLIMACTIC RETELLINGS OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES REJECTED FOR INCLUSION IN A FORTHCOMING
"A COMPLAINT TO THE
What a huge lesson in really studying individual markets and evaluating if the piece really is right for the publication!
Anyway, I'd never analyzed the true composition of their pieces, the true nature of the situational comedy inherent on their site, and I was shocked, I say, to finally see the obvious.
I was also VERY excited that the second suggestion that John and other panel members made for subbing humor was Opium.com Magazine. Even though I'm on the print side, I still feel all warm and fuzzy and family-like with the other half. Very cool!
Another online zine with which I was actually unfamiliar is The Morning News. Definitely worth some examination.
On a final note for today, I did get to start Ellen Meister's "Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA" on this trip. Lisa Kudrow is a delightful reader and the characters themselves are clever and witty. In Atlanta traffic, I didn't get as far as I'd wished because I'm trying to concentrate on style as well as storyline, a difficult feat while battling maniac drivers in that city; I'm still on disk one-of-nine, but there's going to be some terrific travel time coming up!