Blog: Just Trying to Amuse

Burt Ross

The only thing more pathetic than a comic explaining to his audience that the joke he just told was in fact a joke is a columnist (in this case, moi) who has to remind his readers that his column is meant to amuse. I say this because of two recent incidents both at Diamond’s Malibu Gym, where I “hang out”  to “work out” — if you can call what I do working out.

A young lady (You know I am getting old when I refer to somebody around 50 as a young lady.) sitting on a stationary bike next to mine introduced herself to me and told me she reads my column. I beamed with uncontrollable joy until she followed up her introductory remarks with, “I don’t care for the way you relate to other people. You treat your relationships in a flippant manner.”

I was devastated. All the air came out of my balloon hitherto filled with pride.

Rather than slinking off into the distance with my tail between my legs, I decided to ask her a question.

“Do you know I write a humor column?” There was an awkward silence followed by, “Oh, I didn’t know. That makes all the difference.”

The second incident occurred about the same time as the first. A man named Ed approached and greeted me enthusiastically with “I have a great idea for your column.”

To be perfectly honest, this was not the first person who has presented me with an idea. So far, not a single idea has made it into print, and you will quickly understand why.

“You know,” he explained, “a group of us, including Mickey and Lawrence, met at the gym, and we work out here and we have gotten to become friends over the years.” I was not sure where this was heading, but so far a funny column wasn’t forming in my mind.

“And we do things for each other,” he continued. “Why, just the other week one of us needed a colonoscopy, and so I drove my friend to his colonoscopy.”

Having suffered through a couple of colonoscopies, I definitely did not feel my creative humor muse working overtime. Where was this going? Was there a surprise ending? Did the patient go for his colonoscopy only to find it was actually a surprise birthday party? I waited and waited.

“Is that it?” I asked.

My gym mate looked stunned as if I were rejecting one of the great ideas of our time. I did not know what to say, so all I could come up with is “I’ll take it under advisement.” 

So let me give a few tips to those of you who read my column. Please do not take what I say literally or seriously. Do not even take what I say. Leave it. If you feel there is some wisdom to be gleaned, there is none. For me, humor trumps the truth every time. And if you have some ideas you wish to share with me, trust me — I will take them under advisement.