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  • It’s My Life, and I Can Laugh If I Want To
It’s My Life, and I Can Laugh If I Want To
Written by
Kaye Curren
November 2018
Written by
Kaye Curren
November 2018

It’s My Life, and I Can Laugh If I Want To

Humor has been such a friend to me over the years.  I simply could not have survived the crazy ups and downs of my life without my favorite humorists. The uniqueness and brilliance of these favorite authors are that they elicit side-splitting laughter while delivering profound stories and life’s lessons – and at times, a picture of places I never have had the time or money to visit.


The 1980s:  In this decade of raising young children, divorce, family loss, and joblessness would these funny authors save me?  No, but they made me laugh when I wasn’t crying.

1982    Russell Baker - Growing Up is a masterpiece and journalistic history. His mom’s a hoot too.  But life story is as much a tale of family foibles and challenges. I figured if Russell could make it, so could I.

1986    Erma Bombeck - When my kids were young, I had to hide in the bathroom to read Erma so I wouldn’t wake them, choking with laughter, but also to be near the toilet in case I peed my pants. Erma made me see that being an imperfect mom was not a tragedy and that kids anywhere can get on your nerves.


The 1990s: As my children grew up and began to leave home, I suffered empty nest syndrome, not to mention the “no man was calling” syndrome. Loneliness was a real thing for me. Did these popular columnists keep me from leaping off a tall building?  No. But I was too busy guffawing through much of the loss and loneliness. And it appears I was longing to travel? As a single mother with limited funds, I hitched a ride across the world with these funny folks.

1993 Dave Barry – Back in college, I read Dave’s earlier books in the closet, so I wouldn’t disturb my roommates with my hysterical laughter. My favorite book of his came out in the 90s - Dave Barry Does Japan, which contained Dave’s usual hilarity but with a profound sense of the Japanese people and culture - and an understanding of the American in unfamiliar territory.

1996 Art Buchwald - Art’s political satire was the best. But I most enjoyed his memoir, I’ll Always Have Paris. I liked living vicariously with Art – experiencing Paris and following him around as he wrote for major newspapers.


The 2000s More empty nest syndrome. More single life trauma.  Back to the workplace after 15 years. I needed a heavy dose of funny.  Who ya gonna call?  The funniest writers of the new millennium.  It appears, at this stage, I again wished to travel. Or was it to escape my present situation?

2004  J. Maarten Troost wrote two great travel memoirs. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific and Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. Troost has written hilarious travelogues of being caught on seriously underdeveloped islands in the South Seas. I loved traveling with him but this time I was grateful I didn’t have to experience those islands firsthand.

2004  Firoozeh Dumas's Funny in Farsi changed my outlook on Persians and other Middle Easterners. I met Firoozeh at a reading and was further impressed by her commitment to present her countrymen in a new light. And I learned something new about Iranian women. They can be simply laugh-out-loud funny.

2006 Bill Bryson I‘ve read Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods four times, trying to figure out how he can be so funny.  I wanted to be that funny!  A Walk in the Woods might be another book I should have read in the bathroom or the closet as to not disturb anyone. But by then, I lived alone and could laugh as loudly as I wanted to.

2007 Having lived in the middle of Wisconsin in my growing up years, I related to Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. To me, and to many others, it’s a kick in the pants masterpiece. I marveled at how he could capture childhood and the middle westerner with such wit and tongue-in-cheek humor.


The 2010s

The current decade brought peace and security to my life. I got a real job and began to build a retirement fund.  I saw my children established in their adult lives. Still no men in my life, but I didn’t really care? I had my humorists, but I also had my own dream of writing and publishing. Although I had less need to find humor as healing, I was by now hooked on spending time with funny people.

2010 Nora Ephron’s humor spreads across books, screenplays, and speeches.  My all-time favorite is her I Remember Nothing about getting older.  And for a quick and fun moment on the Internet, I repeat-watch her roast of Mike Nichols on the AFI Tribute to Mike Nichols. Hilarious.

2010 Christopher Buckley - I sometimes have to carry a dictionary to read Buckley’s humor but I’m mad about his columns and essays none the less. If you want to read a masterwork memoir, read Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir. He captures a time and a place and his famous parents with such wit and affection.

2011 Calvin Trilling - Another writer I keep reading to see if the brilliance will rub off on me. Not so far.  Calvin and I go way back to the 90s, but if I were to gather together all his best, I would pull out my Quite Enough of Calvin Trilling - Forty Years of Funny Stuff and remember all the days he made me laugh.

2017 Erma Bombeck Revisited – I began writing in 2013 and with trepidation, sent a humor piece to the Erma Bombeck Workshop blog. It was accepted! Since then, I have happily seen five more blog posts there. I can’t adequately describe the thrill I had when my face showed up next to Erma’s on the front page of the workshop website. Talk about a thirty-year dream come true. Then in 2017, I attended the EBWW in Dayton, OH. What an experience rubbing elbows with truly talented humorists.

In 2018, I can now add myself to the list of my favorite humorists. Not as famous or gifted a the writers above, but hey, we hang out together now.


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