Having spent the weekend applying for creative writing jobs where people still expect you to have a sense of humour by the time you’ve filled out a few online forms, I can honestly say it’s no fun.
Firstly I don’t know what the protocol for this sort of thing is either so I’m having to wing it as I go, and to be honest, how can you define having a sense of humour when applying for a job? Technically it goes against all you’re taught when you first learn to apply for jobs in the first place.
Am I supposed to try to be cheeky from the offset, gently edging my way into their world or be subtle and just try and see where opportunity presents itself in the mundane application process!?
Probably neither, if any at all. Examples, submissions and links. Fair enough you think, but is it?
All potential employees are clearly seeking their own individual style, set-up, subject matter and we have what? A collection of miscellaneous written articles which by all accounts may bear no resemblance to anything they seek at all, even though you know in yourself you can probably do what they want and even though you may appease their initial criteria.
Thankfully I don’t get that worried till later on in the form and the realisation of the task sinks in.
What’s in a name?
Personally, I can’t usually get past the name field without having a slight chuckle to myself. Once I begin it’s downhill from there on as life gifted me with the name ‘Simon Alexander Rusiecki-Rawicz‘. If more than three people in my entire life have pronounced it, spelt it or even tackled it in less than three attempts, then it’s something to go in the diary.
Not that I have a diary, I gave up because I could never spell my name right till I was in my 20’s. Subsequently I now have hundreds of diaries with a strange almost identical name to mine, all boxed up and in the attic waiting for their prodigal owners to appear one day.
For years I wondered if I had an army of mythical brothers and sisters scattered about the lands but my mum gave me no clues to help alleviate my worries.
In hindsight I don’t suppose she could probably spell my name either, other than the one time she filled in the birth certificate and after that I’m guessing she just handed the afore mentioned piece of paper to whoever needed it, and then sat back and watched them struggle with it for hours as I used to. If I actually scrutinise the logic, I’m guessing it’s probably not even the name I should have had when I was born anyway.
I bet once she’d spent a couple of hours erasing each failed attempt, at some point she just said “enough, whatever’s down, he can keep it regardless”.
If the name alone doesn’t suggest that there is clearly going to be a number of experiences that come from having a name like that as it is, then I suggest that many are probably the ones which may also have helped corrupt a once sane mind. Therefore you need to put yourselves in my shoes and imagine my nightmare growing up.
Back when the internet was merely an infant, name boxes and online forms couldn’t handle that volume of letters in one name. Few still can and in the real world it’s even worse! One positive is that people rarely forget you. They won’t obviously remember you by name per say, but they remember you sure as hell had one.
When I was growing up, I also had another name too (which I shall keep to myself for fear of breaking the internet any more than what I dare already), that combined with what i do already have was as good as it was bad.
When the internet was still unprepared from names like my own, and the majority of my dealings at the time still involved people, real live people, it was chaos.
Now I’m not suggesting that my name makes people stupid, but If I had a penny for every time I slowly spelt it, passed someone my passport or a document with my name ALREADY on it and watched them endure what looks like a mental breakdown, then I’d probably have enough money to bankroll Greece.
You guessed it, about €6.52.
Also, you have to bear in mind that I was born in the UK and most of my life has been spent fighting people for thinking I’m Russian, Polish, Ukranian or any other Slavic national trying to sneak into the Country. These days I often resort to just going along with it, I just add ‘ski’ to the end of every other word and they soon think I’m buddies with Putin.
Here in Greece it’s been particularly eventful as it seems to be the verbal Nemesis to the Greek tongue, and for a language as rich as Greek, it surprised me more than I expected. There are people who I dealt with in the civil service over the last 8 years who are probably still in recovery…
I think most people are so preoccupied with the ‘Rusiecki-Rawicz‘ part, that this reduces their IQ to the point that getting the ‘Simon Alexander‘ to come out naturally is almost impossible.
Ultimately they have the last laugh, me trying to pronounce some Greek words is like entering your mouth into an Olympic event to which you’ve had no training and your mouth turns up drunk. Seriously…
State your intentions.
Assuming I safely navigate my way past the name issue, then there’s the address.
I’m currently in Greece and many jobs I have applied for are in the US, quite a few of them have the standard auto-fill but quite a few don’t. Of the ones that don’t, many are usually the ones where you have to choose which state you’re in and what I have come across on numerous websites is the fact that often you can pick a Country, (any), fill out all respective fields except for the state. It still defaults to the US mainland. Attiki is null and void, despite sometimes allowing you to enter it.
It still won’t allow you to proceed beyond the form until you do add a state, a US state that is, so, apologies in advance if you happen to be viewing this post from a link I sent, and are still bemused to where Athens is in New York.
Sorry but I had to cheat, something obviously which might have come up further down the line, or now if you happen to be reading this, and be one such potential employer.
What is ‘humour’?
“One man’s treasure is another man’s junk” so to speak. Almost anyway, but not any more after society quickly reduced the term ‘junk’ to a sexual connotation. And how did that really happen? Anyway, in many ways it still has the same colloquial meaning, but in an unfortunate and ‘dangling it in your face’ kind of way.
Each to their own I suppose, as is the case with the funnies, or lack of them.
Everyone has a moment where someone tells a joke and everyone laughs but one person. It could even be us, we might have been that one person, stood desperately, scratching our heads in pursuit of the punchline in a bid to not look stupid, or rapidly trying to muster our best ‘sincere and how funny was that’ laugh.
Sometimes it just eludes us or requires more information. Sometimes it’s just not that funny and maybe everyone else is just trying too hard to look like they knew what the joke was about, who knows. The point is, we all have our own unwritten guidelines that define what we laugh at.
Visual humour can be a little more obvious and easy attainable as it’s often based on misfortune, opportunity or innuendo, certainly if you’re British anyway. We love a bit of ‘Nudge nudge, wink, wink,how’s you’re Father’, know what I mean’…
I suspect that most of the British Empire came about from having had one glass of Sherry too many and someone asking for another cucumber sandwich.
Then there’s alternative and modern humour, skits, characters and scenarios that lead us along a short path to a series of, or carefully delivered end result, hopefully as rewarding as the trip itself.
Written humour I think is a lot more difficult to achieve in certain subjects and probably for good reason too. It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t make something that lacks humour funny, it’s most likely that it’ll get you into trouble or offend too many politically correct law hungry socio-paths, all eager to drag you into the social media forum for their 15 minutes of unmerited glory.
Obviously these days there’s a few subject which only the brave or foolish dare tackle for fear of being blown up, and needless to say, I’ll be staying away from those.
When is unfunny, funny?
Funerals, now there’s a niche market for humour if ever there was one! How great would life (and death) be if you went to see great uncle Betsy off and the vicar tore up a storm!?
I think it’d be great. Eulogies are far too sombre in my humble opinion. Some cultures celebrate the life rather than the death of the individual, and so why not celebrate their misfortunes, all the stupid things they’ve done or said, after all, they are dead!? What they gonna do…?
We do it all the time when they are alive, sometimes even to their faces so rounding it all up and putting on a show come the big day seems almost appropriate when you think about it, and the beauty with writing, as with the modern usage of quotes these days is that they don’t necessarily have to have said anything that you imply anyway.
It’s what’s become of the world these days. How many times have we all seen an advertising campaign online where there’s some great visual, or a portrait of a famous person and some historically inaccurate quote underneath claiming that the said this or that.
Insurance, anything to do with Insurance, Law, safety manuals, cook books, all FAR too serious if you ask me. Let’s liven them up a bit shall we!
I’d definitely read the in-flight safety brochure if it told me all the hilarious things that could happen in the event of an emergency, plus, in the event of an emergency, I’m pretty sure some humour would work quite well too…
Where previously I didn’t submit many CV’s or apply to a lot of the serious vacancies which did request someone with a ‘good sense of humour’, maybe I now should.
Plus, no one’s going to advertise for a vacancy whereby they require someone with a ‘bad sense of humour’ or ‘no sense of humour’ are they?
A material world.
A serious down side to writing about many different subjects is that you sometimes touch upon many subjects over the years where some of the people you hope to come across one day might just find one of the topics a little close to heart.
Your material and some slight content may on one or two occasions rub people the wrong way, and whilst they themselves may have no immediate issue with it, somewhere in the back of their minds you know it might have been a non productive result. Either way, what can you do about it, nothing. You have to stand firm.
I’m not sure if it was Jesus or Gandhi that said “Insult everyone fairly and show no discrimmination”, but it’s a good rule of thumb. The point is that whatever subject you choose needs to be respectfully inclusive to the whole world and all those on her.
If you start singling out specific targets, groups or nationalities then you face alienating yourself or being branded a racist, fascist or some other word ending in ‘ist’.
Then there’s Politics… Always a minefield of potential disaster waiting to happen if ever was the case, but often funny all the same. As long as you can stand proud and validate or justify your comments and don’t shy away from the criticism or those who react to your words then all is good.
If I dare be so brave, it’s like the whole Donald Trump scenario going off in the US at present. If you can make die hard Donald Trump supporters laugh at the man himself, then you’ve stuck comedy gold. Chances are you’ll have some gun toting activist eye-balling you with a sawn off before they’ve wiped away the tears, but if it’s funny, it’s funny, just roll with it, it’s not the end of the world, is it…!?
No further comment, all I’m saying!
Of course, its not always an opinion you voice or believe in anyway. Sometimes it’s purely because you can see some humour in whatever it is you have focussed on and obviously there’s a fine line between offending people and joking about something which has genuine meaning to it. This is often relative to the audience, the subject material and the means of delivery too.
Let’s face it, no one writes a fart gag for a fortune cookie. It’s just not the done thing.
Obviously, the sad reality is that because it’s not the done thing it would far enhance the humour when the unsuspecting joke would be found. But who wants that risk?
Much as I like to consider myself versatile, I don’t think I’ll be scripting any jokes for fortune cookies any time soon…