The Story Behind the Story: Act Natural

You know that old chestnut about comedy being hard? It's so very true.

I found that out firsthand during Challenge #3 of this year's NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. I was assigned to write a comedy that takes place in a vintage clothing store and includes aluminum foil.

Comedy is not really my thing. I don't watch sitcoms (well, except for reruns of M*A*S*H) because, frankly, I don't find them funny. Same for "Saturday Night Live" and other late night television. Very few stand-up comedians make me laugh (although Bill Engvall and Jon Stewart have both, on occasion, made me laugh until I couldn't breathe). I've read a few books by Christopher Moore, but only two made me giggle: Lamb and Sacre Bleu. Still, his middle-school-boyish humor is not something I can recreate.

So what the heck was I going to do?

After 12 hours of panic, I decided to take a stab at writing a comedy of errors. It took all day of Day One of the two-day challenge to produce a draft. A very, very horrible, absolutely no good, very bad draft.

Day Two brought the rewrite. It was by far an improvement over Day One's draft, but I knew when I submitted it that my journey in the Flash Fiction Challenge was over. I was right. I didn't advance to the finals, but I did receive some very kind comments from the judges about the story. Still, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm never again assigned comedy as a genre.


Click here to read "Act Natural."