Art Buchwald, my role model

19 Jan

When I took on my first ever steady writing gig – as a columnist for my high school paper – my role model was humorist Art Buchwald, whose own column ran in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Buchwald was a weird role model for a 17-year old writer to have. And not always the best role model: my pieces sometimes took this weird curmudgeonly stance, as if I couldn’t believe all the nonsense folks were up to these days with their craziness and whatnot.

But he was the first writer whose work I studied from a writer’s perspective. I read his columns carefully, noting how he’d introduce his topic, then set up a scene that he could use to make jokes (usually a dialogue between himself and some crazy character). I saw how he set up each joke, knocked it out, and then moved on as he built up to the final, deadpan punchline. I copied this format when I wrote my own columns, gradually finding my own voice as I worked within his tried and true framework.

Kids started coming up to me in the hall and shyly telling me that they thought my stuff was really funny. They were shy around me, the King Dork of the Universe.

Thanks, Art.

1925-2007

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One Response to “Art Buchwald, my role model”

  1. MOM January 21, 2007 at 10:39 am #

    File this under “things your mother never knew about you”. Art Buchwald was also my role model, as well as Mike Royko and a diverse assortment of humorous female non-fiction writers such as Jean Kerr, Peg Bracken, Erma Bombeck and Helen Gurley Brown. (I said it was diverse, didn’t I?)

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