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Be Funny!

It’s deadline time and I am feeling the crunch. While many of the Class of 2004 are scurrying to clean up their resumes, desperately seeking synonyms for words like gopher and grunt (which we are told are not suggested for the HBS format), I am struggling with a different monkey on my back. Forget the fact that my course schedule for the coming semester has more holes in it than the plot of Gigli, or that I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. (HBS Career Services advises me that “billionaire” is not sufficiently specific to serve as the core of a focused network job search.) Rather, the constant rumble I hear speaks only two words. And they haunt me.

Be funny.

“Be funny,” it says, like a whisper.

“By Wednesday.”

Every Wednesday.

Apparently that is what I signed up for when I took the job of editing the Harbus’s humor section. Who knew? Allen knew. That bastard. This is his fault. Flash back to June…

“Edit it?” I echoed back to Allen (our former editor-in-chief) when he asked. “Sure, why not?”

I mean, what with spell checker and all how hard could it be? All I have to do is remove any allusions to persons known, alive or dead, and keep the major four-letter words out of the paper, and I’m golden, right?

“You have to make sure that we have articles every week. They are due by Wednesday of the week we go to press.”

Now responsible for content as well as punctuation, I still thought I had it under control. I figured I would get a few of the funny people around campus who like to show off and put them up to writing a few words here and there, slap something together and BAM!, laughter with minimal effort, right?

Then I got a call yesterday. Tuesday.

“Hey Omz, I hate to be a nag, but are we going to have any humor articles for the Harbus this week? They are due by Wednesday.”

Wait, you mean this week. As in tomorrow? But no one is back yet to write for me. People are still off sunning, sleeping, working, TIVOing – you name it, but they ain’t here, and they ain’t writing.

“Well, think of something. And get it to me by Wednesday.”

Tick tock, tick tock…

Tuesday, 4 p.m. “Be funny…”

Tick tock, tick tock…

Tuesday, 10 p.m. “Be funny…”

Tick tock, tick tock…

Wednesday, 10 a.m. Please be funny.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Wednesday, 2 p.m. Desperation has set in. None of my ideas have that special something that makes them both funny and publishable.

That is to say, all I can come up with is piss and fart jokes.

I need a snack. I reach into my duffel from the red-eye flight I caught this morning, and grab the goodies I smuggled off the plane.

An apple, a bottle of water and some kind of peanut bar. And then, as if in a movie, I am saved.

Cut to Omar’s face, looking obviously relieved. Camera pans down his chest across his desk to the point he is obviously starring at. A candy wrapper is in his hands. It is red with yellow and white text. It reads:

“Pearson’s(r) Salted Nut Roll. Fun Size.”

Camera zooms to the wrapper where we see the logo for the Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll: Dudley P. Nutt. He is shaped roughly like a hot dog with arms and legs, and is wearing a beanie, overalls, a backpack and oversized tennis shoes.

Dudley P. Nutt(r), the Salted Nut Roll

Cut back to Omar’s face. Unable to ignore the ridiculousness and innuendo inherent in a candy called the salted nut roll, he is now smirking triumphantly.

It is deadline time, and I am still feeling the crunch (there is a pun in there, so tread lightly). But as for being funny, “Sure,” I say, “I’m on a roll.”

September 2, 2003
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