LOWER PROVIDENCE>>You won’t need a library card to check out the laughs when Lower Providence Community Library hosts a three-day humor writing workshop, but you will need to check in with your inner Mark Twain.
No worries on that front, because you’ll have renowned humorist and author Donna Cavanagh to help you every step of the way, regardless of your motives for taking the free Wednesday classes, March 15, 22 and April 1, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The author of “How to Write and Share Humor: Techniques to Tickle Funny Bones and Win Fans” and the founder of the wildly eclectic and absurdly popular HumorOutcasts.com has been sharing her insight with everyone from unabashed novices to Emmy-winning TV writers for decades.
The same advice for rousing a smile, a giggle or a full-blown guffaw applies to all seekers of levity, from professionals to a memo writer striving to punch up the driest office missive, and all are welcome at the library workshop, Cavanagh pointed out.
“This will be the same course I taught at the Philadelphia Writers Conference,” noted Cavanagh, who is a former Times Herald news reporter and humor columnist for The Mercury and now lives with her husband, Ed, and the couple’s three dogs, Frankie, Lulu and Theo, in East Norriton. “It’s fun to teach people techniques to get their creative juices flowing and bring their humor out. The workshop will be very interactive and get people to explore their funny side. We all need funny.”
As the entrepreneurial spirit behind publishing company HumorOutcasts Press, which now embraces the labels Shorehouse Books and Corner Office Books (HOPress-Shorehousebooks.com), Cavanagh is uniquely suited to laying out the course for fledgling authors aspiring to be published.
“Humor is difficult to get published,” she said. “The publishing world has changed dramatically in the past decade. It’s very celebrity-focused and unless you have a name that people have seen on TV, your chances of getting published are slim.”
Print is still warming more authors’ and fans’ hearts than digital, though both formats are viable in the HOP world, Cavanagh allowed.
“Books are just a different experience in reading than on a device, but people love having that book in their hands, even millenials. Seventy percent of people said they prefer having a paperback in their hand to digital,” noted Cavanagh, who launched HumorOutcasts.com as a creative online refuge where writers could showcase their work in a world that was increasingly indifferent to them.
“We now have 100 writers, with fresh content every day, and get up to 20,000 hits a day,” said Cavanagh, whose site on Feb. 10 featured such eclectic stabs at humor as “Updated Tales: Cinderella” and “Spaghetti Omelette and the Mongol Terror,” complete with a recipe.
Perhaps surprising to many folks, lawyers are some of the biggest contributors to the site, Cavanagh noted.
“They write everything from humor novels to humor posts, and the reason they love it is because it gives them a diversion from the very dry work that they have to deal with every day,” explained Cavanagh, who will touch on as many forms of humor as possible during the workshop
“Humor doesn’t have to be laugh-out loud funny all the time. It can just be something that makes people smile … or roll their eyes. There are so many kinds of humor, from potty humor all the way up to intellectual humor.”
Cavanagh said she is excited about the prospect of livening things up at the library.
“ Libraries are so important to a community and people sometimes forget that. How wonderful it is that libraries are bringing all these wonderful things to the community now,” she said. “It’s not just a place to go and check out a book. They have so much to offer and that’s really why I’m doing this. They’re an amazing resource and need to be appreciated more. It’s time for people to open their eyes and realize what a library is all about.”
Pre-registration for the humor writing workshop at Lower Providence Community Library, 50 Parklane Dr., Eagleville, is required by calling 610-666-6640, ext 0, or emailing Barbara Loewengart at firstname.lastname@example.org.