Ryan Chartrand

Many times, “Dead Week” really means nothing to Cal Poly students. Some might think it is a week where you pretty much are dead with exams and papers due, while others claim that it means that professors aren’t supposed to have anything due during the week. The real reason though, is quite apparent right now. That, of course, being that “Mike’s Guide to Life” is now officially dead. I know, it’s sad, but after 20-something articles, it must now come to a close. As you should know already, I am graduating next week and thus a new humor columnist will likely grace the pages of the Daily next school year. Who will it be? Who knows, but with this final “Guide to Life,” I’ll give you all that you need to know to be the next Mustang Daily Humor Columnist.

First things first, you should be somewhat funny. What makes things harder, is that right on the top of the page it says “Humor Column,” so people are going into your article expecting it to be funny. Your job, in 600-800 words, is to prove to your reader that you can indeed make him or her laugh. While it could be easy some of the time, for the most part you need to be ready to come up with a new topic every week of the year.

To do this, I suggest you think of either one person or a group of people, and make fun of them as much as possible. If you go back through my articles, you’ll notice that I have made fun of everyone from Jews to Republicans to Jews to facebook users to Jews to frat guys to Jews and so on. By doing this, you are able to get people to relate to you as you bash everyone as much as you possibly can. You must be cautious with this though. While you’ll have people on your side one week, you might be making fun of those same people the very next week.

To counter this, you must make sure that you spread the making fun somewhat evenly. For example, if you make fun of Ryan Seacrest one week, you probably shouldn’t make fun of San Francisco at all the next week. This, of course, is because then you would offend the gay population two weeks in a row, and it might be hard to get them back after writing those two articles so close together.

Moving on. There is a certain fame that will come from being a columnist. This usually means that one of your friends will have one roommate who once read your article. This person then might recognize you from your picture so stay humble, sign an autograph or two and really make sure that they stay your fan. Also, after writing your column for awhile, you’ll get people asking to be in your articles. This will range from putting in fake quotes by them, all the way to them doing dumb shit in attempts to reach out to you to put them in your article. Normally when people ask this, I’ll smile, and tell them that “I’ll try,” and never actually put them in. If I did mention people, it would be because their stuff was true, and I would never want to waste that 800-word limit on people who think they might be cool if they show up in an article.

The third thing I have, if you want to go this route, is to use footnotes1. Pretty self-explanatory, but if you do it, make sure they are better than mine2, or else you’ll just probably be accused of trying to be like me3.

The next thing would have to be your writing style. The biggest advice I could possibly give you is to write your columns however the hell you want. In what may seem confusing to some critics, humor columns don’t have to be strict English prose. Instead, write what you want and how you want it, just as long as you get your point across. If shit gets real bad, your editors will just clean it up anyway4.

Well, that is as much advice as I can give without actually writing your articles myself. Thanks if you read my articles. I appreciate it and good luck in the rest of your time at Cal Poly. If you’re graduating, get out of here and be/stay happy.

Love. Peace. I hope you laughed at least a bit over the last year and for those who asked to be in my articles, your time has now come5.

1 As much as you can.
2 Which is impossible.
3 Also impossible.
4 Thank you, Emily, Jenn, Angel and Giana.
5 Ah, shit. Well, it would have been your time if that word limit didn’t hit again. Sorry!

Mike Heimowitz is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily humor columnist. Tell him what you’ve learned in college at mikeheimowitz.com.

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