Humor Workshop: "Chaos Remembered in Tranquility"

  • Saturday, January 25, 2020
  • 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
  • BARN Writers' Studio, Class Code: WR012520BB
  • 0

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In this workshop you will examine how humor writers use incidents from their lives to turn the painful, the absurd, the odd, the embarrassing, the disconcertingly memorable…. into humor. Then, to follow James Thurber’s adage “Humor is chaos remembered in tranquility” we will sift through our lives to find those stories, anecdotes and incidents to guild with humor. We will, examining other humor-writers’ works, look at structure (essay or story) as a means to convey humor. 


We will investigate the ways in which writers convey humor-- exaggeration, identification, embarrassment, self-deprecation… and practice using them.  Instruction will include lecture, writing exercises, sharing-in-pairs and with class. The last half-hour attendees are encouraged to share what they wrote. At the conclusion of four hours, workshop attendees will have an understanding of methods writers use to convey humor, determine what kind of humor best fits their writing voice, understand the risks and rewards of using humor, and consider the format (essay or story) when writing with humor as the main goal.

Bob Balmer's first humorous essay was published in the Oregonian in 1992.  His work has appeared in The Smithsonian, The Oregonian, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, Golf Illustrated, ZYZZYVA, 

Oregon Coast Magazine, Golf Weekly, The Eugene Weekly, The Guide and Willamette Week.  It has aired on the radio shows The Savvy Traveler and MarketPlace as well as on Oregon Public Radio and Television.  

He has an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University, and he attended the Iowa Summer Writing Workshop and the Tin House Summer Writing Workshop at Reed College.  He recently returned from taking Improv and sketch writing classes at Second City Comedy in Chicago.  He has led humor writing workshops at Write in the Harbor, Portland Storytellers Guild, The Oregon Writers Colony, Sitka Center for the Arts and Ecology, The Write on the Sound Conference, The Hoffman Center for the Arts, Mary's Woods Retirement Center, The Oregon Council Teachers of English student writing Festival

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