Aug 16, 2011

When Humorless People Edit Humor: A Local Case Study

Here is the title and introduction for an article that I wrote for a very local paper. Very. Local. So very local and folksy that it publishes several fake stories on April 1, so very local and folksy that after July 4, it is covered with photos of cute kids at the parade. Got it? Let's carry on.

I am on a committee at the Swarthmore Food Emporium (pseudonmym) and my main role is to write stuff. This article is publicizing a fundraiser so we can make healthy meals for people who need them, and the meals are made on Sunday nights.

Here is the BEFORE:

The Swarthmore Food Emporium Commits Senseless Acts of Kindness: More Accomplices Needed

by Lauren McKinney, Food Emporium Committee of Blah-Blah

One Sunday night in the spring, after the Food Emporium closed its doors to shoppers, some fresh food disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The scene of the crime looked like this: A local woman took some whole wheat off the shelf to boil on the emporium's stove. Soon thereafter, pasta with chicken and homemade sauce was seen leaving the premises. Meanwhile, fresh berries were cut, Caribbean black bean soup bubbled mysteriously on the stove, and another accomplice made a green salad. Officer Pardo of the Swarthmore Police Department was baffled.

And here is a quote from a committee member upon reading my draft:

"My biggest concern is actually the tag line and 'crime scene' theme.  While it was really cute and catchy, I did not like going anywhere near associating an outreach effort with something criminal."

She rewrote it and here is the AFTER:

The Swarthmore Food Emporium Is Taking It To the Street: More Support Is Needed
On a Sunday night this spring, after the Food Emporium closed its doors to shoppers, the store was anything but quiet. Food was collected from the emporium shelves, whole wheat pasta was doused with olive oil and homemade pesto, chicken was sautéed, fresh kale was chopped, local berries were cut, and Caribbean black bean soup bubbled on the stove.  In just over two hours, Food Emporium members Holly Norris and Kelly Shire [pseudonyms], together with eight volunteers, had prepared enough food to provide 4-5 meals for 10 people.  Why?  

I went along with it, because I know how to do committees. And I added their names to the byline. Inside, I'm thinking BLOG FODDER. I lament, and today seems to be a day for lamenting, the humorlessness that is floating out there in the world, dully, pointlessly, inexorably. A gray cloud of humorlessness dampening high spirits everywhere!! (Nothing against the color gray or clouds.) So what do you say? Grab your whimsy, put on your satire, attach your hyperbole and even your litote (if you can find one),and let's fight this thing together.


Domestic Goddess said...

And now I am dying to know who rewrote it...

Lilian said...

oh boy, the rewritten version is so bland and boring! :( I'm sorry your humorous text was replaced by a humorless description. Sigh.