Laughter can kill you, don’t try it

Life is easy. Comedy is hard.

I didn’t set out to make “The Outsidah” humorous. I originally conceived of this column as a sappy, sentimental commentary on how wonderful life is in small-town New England.

But reality took over.

They say “Write what you know.” Well, I moved from a big city in the desert into a two-century-old house on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and pretty soon, “what I know” made me chuckle.

At this point, the question is not whether small-town New England will make me laugh. The only question, each day as I awaken, is WHAT will make me chuckle? The traffic, the weather, the wildlife, or local government? For me, these are the four basic food groups.

On the other hand, I’ve taken my share of hits for commenting humorously on my new life as an “Outsidah” in small-town New England. One reader had the temerity to write to me and call me “obnoxious.” And who knows how many readers have considered me obnoxious but didn’t bother to write?

(My advice to those beleaguered readers: Stop reading! My name appears at the top of the blog, not the bottom! Why? So you have ample warning! You can avert your gaze before it’s too late!)

So when somebody else ventures a toe into the fetid humor swamp, I’m always alarmed.

And now our beloved school superintendent has made the mistake of going there.

Last week the Ipswich Local News reported that Superintendent Brian Blake included a piece in his weekly email announcing a job opening: substitute school nurse.

Hilarious proposition, right? Apparently so.

“Have you ever dreamed of the glamorous world of school nursing? Do you love going on field trips? Are you captivated by Band-Aids and cough drops? If so you may be in luck!”

Etc., etc.

Bombarded by complaints, Blake explained that he had simply copied and pasted something written by one of the school nurses.

“I did not attribute it to them,” he confessed.

I may be obnoxious, but at least I write my own stuff.

Still, I sympathize with Supt. Blake. I understand, deep down inside, the allure of comedy. I’ve been there, believe me. You want to be loved. You want people chuckling in an affirming way.

You can either attempt to write humorous material, and risk being called “obnoxious” — or you can steal stuff from a hapless, underpaid school nurse, and go to jail for plagiarism.

Me, I’m sticking with obnoxious.

However, because I have a charitable streak, I’ve reached out to the Middleton House of Correction, where Supt. Blake will be incarcerated, and I’ve volunteered to be his cellmate.

As a good deed, I’m going to be reading him all 344 of my “Outsidah” posts aloud. I figure at about 135 words a minute, I’ll wrap up just around the time they let him out.

That’ll teach him.

Doug Brendel’s presumably funny new novel, “Praying for Mrs. Mombasa,” is available at Doug will also emcee Castle Hill Concerts in Ipswich every Thursday night beginning July 1st. Contact him at, at your own risk.

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