By Rich Figel
What makes you laugh? Who makes you laugh?
When you think about it, locally, we seem to be suffering from a comedy deficit these days. Humor columns in Honolulu newspapers are now a thing of the past. We don't really have a homegrown version of the Daily Show or an Onion style parody of Hawaii news that I'm aware of.
While much has been made about the consolidation of TV news and the two daily papers, I think there is potentially more money in funny. I'd love to see some out-of-work newspaper people put together an Un-CivilBeat.com page or do a Honolulu Weakly parody, for example. In Hollywood, many aspiring writers and filmmakers have gotten their big breaks by making shorts that spoof blockbusters or certain movie icons.
Being funny in print or on demand is actually pretty hard work. As a screenwriter, I've written comedies that prompted veteran Hollywood people to say they laughed out loud, which was rare for them. But when I was on the phone with one producer, she said: "I sense you're a funny person. Not that you've said anything funny while we've been talking." I felt like she was waiting for me to deliver witty banter on the spot. However, my best lines usually come to me when I'm in the bathroom or taking a shower. Oscar Wilde, I'm not.
I bring this up because we wanted to add more humor to our Career Changers TV show, so we got writer Charley Memminger to do some on-camera pieces for us. His first, airing on the current show, was about traveling to the Mainland for job interviews. His second, which will be in the August episode, is about his experiences with the unemployment office.
As it happens, Charley just received another national honor to go along with past awards he won for his Star-Bulletin column. He took third place in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2010 Contest in the humor division for newspapers with over 100,00 circulation. The judge was Mike Deupree, author and former columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Deupree wrote: "I was immediately receptive to Memminger's work because there is something intrinsically funny, at least to an Iowan, about somebody in Hawaii bitching about the weather."
Charley's reaction to the news was, well, typical Charley: "So I'm still the only national award-winning unemployed columnist in Hawaii."
To see him in his new gig as CCTV humor contributor, go to our website for daily viewing times on OC16.
BTW, am I the only one who thinks most of the comic strips in the Star-Advertiser are pretty lame and unfunny? (For wry, occasionally profane deconstructions of long-running comics, check out The Comics Curmudgeon.)