What Made Erma Bombeck Funny?

Erma Bombeck was a journalist who took everyday situations about her family and made them funny. She was a suburban stand-up who wrote fifteen books and published a column read by thirty million readers and published in nine hundred papers. I cannot make up how many times I trip over Maury’s sandals and pick up his socks. I do not think that’s funny so I marvel how Erma stayed so good-humored about the little things in life. Like this week when Lara called hysterical that Buzz was kicked out of pre-school because he’s not properly potty-trained. She thinks that makes her a terrible mother. I told her to put aside an extra twenty dollars a week to pay for a shrink when he’s older because forcing kids when they not ready can damage them. She hung up on me with a, “Mom, this is not funny!”

This week Maury is sending me to Erma’s birthplace in Dayton, Ohio, former home of Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen, to hang out with humorists, journalists, stand-up comedians and other assorted nuts like me. He thinks it will improve my attitude to be with people who get silly on a regular basis. And that I won’t complain about his dresser top filled with two years of golf debris, sandals under the bed or the junk food wrappers surrounding our sofa.

I am going to be hanging out with an Army of Ermas who will be attending workshops entitled.”Funny Careers Off the Beaten Path” and “The Three H’s–Humor, Heartbreak and Honesty.” I have something to say about that.

What’s Not Funny

The fact that I have issues with family, environment, politics, guns and living in Scottsdale does not destroy my humor. It just makes me a little crazier. And I’m already on the edge. However, I have always considered myself the Vice President in Charge of Fun. I haven’t met the President yet but I’m looking. It could be Glee, my Celebrator in Residence, but I think someone at the Erma Conference could spearhead my efforts.

What’s not funny is when I wake up in the morning and my mother calls to tell me her bunions hurt or she doesn’t like the redhead who sits at her assigned table in the assisted living dining room. Or Maury’s forgotten we have tickets for a concert or Glee’s art opening of pregnant belly casts or there’s twelve coming for dinner and he has a golf game that starts late and will end after the sun goes down.

Science tells us humor is essential for our health, longevity, job satisfaction, personal fulfillment and creating a balanced life. I am working on all of the above. As soon as I take my mother to the podiatrist and Amber back to the vet  to remove another “pod puppy” that has grown to unsightly proportions on her back. And Maury picks up his sandals. And socks.

Until then, I’m stressed in Scottsdale.



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