I was recently told that the general public has combined the attention span of a kitten on meth with the intelligence level of liverwurst, and therefore I need to “dumb down” my writing.
I refuse to do so.
It’s insulting to me as a writer, and to you as a person (or reasonable facsimile thereof), to assume that any topic, joke, or reference made in print is over anyone’s head. I say write what you write, and those that enjoy it will find you. Assuming that your audience is the cast of Road Warrior is like saying that the public is so stupid they’ll vote for a dog act over a hysterical, professional, veteran comic like Tom Cotter on a reality contest show. Wait, that actually happened? Well that completely sucks, but even though mistakes - huge, obvious, glaring mistakes - are occasionally made, my point is still valid. Rather than condescend to my readers, I prefer to give everyone credit for reading at or above a reasonably adult level, and having an IQ at least twice as high as a jar of pickles (Sweet, not dill). It seems to me that the Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo crowd aren’t going to enjoy my writing anyway, so why should I put any effort into appealing to that society destroying demographic?
It seems these days everyone is attempting to promote and market to the lowest level of human intelligence. I am eagerly anticipating the day when “Slacker Chic” is no longer in Vogue, or even in Elle. To my thinking, intentionally writing less than your best falls into the category of negative activity, and I have spent the past year focusing intently on being positive. Positivity produces positive results, and reaching for your best effort every day is most definitely a positive activity. You and I are smarter than they believe, and we need to stick together. This is why you will never see texting abbreviations, lack of capitalization or punctuation, or the catastrophe that is “Imma” in my writing.
You’ll notice that I’m discussing intelligence, and nowhere in this column have I said the word “edgy.” I don’t give a flying squirrel fart about edgy. “Edgy” is for people who are so into not being “mainstream” that they don’t realize they’re simply a slave to the mainstream of another demographic. I write what I think is funny, and I am confident and secure enough to know that those out there who also find it funny, will migrate to my column eventually. My humor is my own, and it ranges from juvenile 8th grade “I know you are but what am I” dialogue, to the most obscure “10%” references that I know when I type them are going to fly under the radar. If you enjoy it, then I am beyond thankful and grateful to you, and I hope you return to my column again and again. If you do not enjoy it, then you are a giant, boogerheaded stinkface, and I hope you return to my column again and again.
Years ago, I worked with Emo Phillips at a comedy club in Fort Lauderdale. Whether or not you enjoy his style on stage, Emo is a brilliant writer, and that week he told me something that I have never forgotten. It’s the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned in comedy, and I’ve applied it to my writing, and my life in general. “The two biggest lessons a comic must learn are these: 1 - Know who you are, and 2 - Know who you are not.” It’s really that simple. Write and perform as YOU, and the rest will fall into place. I know who I am and who I am not, and therefore I have a good understanding of what demographics produce my fans. People who want Hillbilly HandFishing will not read my work. People who can discuss the differences between Big Brother Season Three and Season Nine will not read my published articles. Steelers fans are giant bags of stupid, who smell like something out of a woodchuck’s garbage. These are some of the irrefutable facts through which I try to lead my life.
The basic premise of “dumbing down” writing - or lowering the bar for your chosen pursuits, whatever those may be - is against my nature. Every morning or late afternoon I wake up, and no matter what is on my agenda, I have one overriding goal: to be better than I was yesterday. Better as a writer and a comic, better as a Husband and Father, and better as a man in general. If I’m lowering my standards, then not only am I insulting you, the reader, without whom my writing would have no voice, but I’m also not attempting to improve myself. If I’m not trying to be better than I was yesterday, then I’ve already seen the best I’ll ever be, and that makes for a long, long road ahead.
To you, my readers that consistently return, I say thank you. I am grateful for you, your loyalty, and your constant monetary gifts to my PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org. In return for your readership, I promise I will never insult your intelligence by giving anything but my best effort. Whether that effort produces results which make you think and giggle and maybe pee in your pants a little will obviously vary, but the effort will always be consistent. Then I will smack you in the face with booger and fart jokes. That is the relationship which I propose to you.