The late Richard Brautigan claimed motivation for writing stemmed from wanting to write a book that finished with the word mayonnaise. It was the same motivation that spurred me to write. Not for my fondness of condiments, of course, but for the creative audaciousness writing presented.
Like a bee drawn to pollen, I was drawn to humor. As a kid I read and re-read Woody Allen’s Getting Even, Side Effects and Without Feathers, howling at his command of non-sequiturs and parody. In college, at Syracuse University, I received perhaps my greatest education in the power of creative writing from pen-written letters authored by my brother, a big cheese in the ski industry. They were comedic tsunamis, refreshingly absent of the hi-how-are-you formula, breaking all boundaries, embodying Picasso’s belief that “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” My friends and I would skip class to read them. To this day I still reference his letters when in need of creative sparks.
But the notion of merging writing and creativity into a career did not brain-bloom until I began reading Hunter S. Thompson. His ability to combine insight with wit while covering monumental news stories ignited in me the proverbial light bulb. Pure wow in a tight, aggressive style all of his own. Thompson’s writing made me realize that humor, when used judiciously, could be a king-powerful communication tool.
This realization received mixed results while serving as a news and sports director for WFAD in Middlebury, Vermont. Though I won an Associated Press Award for hockey play-by-play, I was constantly in trouble with station management for inserting humor into my news reporting.
After four years I migrated west with the intent of moving to Los Angeles and becoming a humor writer. But along the way I stopped in Vail, Colorado for three months of skiing. Three months turned into 24 years. The pragmatism of work got trumped by the awe of the Rockies.
During my first winter I began writing and performing a weekly humor segment for Vail Valley Sunday on local TV. Good press followed. Feeling funny-confident, I spent a summer in Chicago studying improv at Second City’s Players Workshop. When I returned to Vail in the fall I gave stand-up comedy a try, turning outdoor experiences – skiing, camping, wildlife – into comedy bits. Within a few years I was touring nationally performing with the likes of Dave Chappelle, Martin Short and Lewis Black.
While on the comedy road I started transferring humor from the stage to the page. I began writing outdoor humor articles for regional and national magazines. Never forgetting what Hunter S. Thompson taught me, I also began applying my humor gimmick towards corporate copy. Clients across the planet began hiring me to write humor for their websites, brochures and in-house videos. Without realizing it I had forged a niche market.
It was during this career evolution that I crossed paths with Jen Lamboy while freelance writing for Dining Out magazine. She and I forged an immediate bond that has since spanned 15 years. Which, oddly, was the last time I used mayonnaise.