Shaba daba ding dong and Some Thoughts on Writing

Shaba daba ding dong. Interesting. The only word which was supposedly spelled wrong in that beautiful prelude was “daba.” I don’t know what a shaba is, but I want one. Oh, I was wrong. It says shaba is spelled wrong now. Must have just been because it was capitalized as the first word of the sentence. I guess it wasn’t really a sentence because there’s no verb. It would be a sentence if it read: Shaba daba dings dong. I guess daba would have to be capitalized. Shaba Daba dings dong. I don’t know who Shaba Daba is, but I do know that he dings dong. He dings that dong real good. One of the best dong dingers west of the Mississippi, I reckon.

So, what’s new? Who’s blue? Are you a Jew? These are the pertinent questions we should be ascertaining. I’m having trouble getting going today, obviously. I don’t really have anything in particular that I was planning on writing about. That’s usually a good thing. I like writing that way. Otherwise there’s a certain level of constriction to the writing. You can tell when a writer is really trying to say something instead of just saying something. Not that it’s wrong to try and say something. If it’s said well, it’s fantastic.

I think it’s interesting when there’s a bit of direction to writing but also some unknown. I like the, “ooh, I has an idea, let’s see where it takes me” adventure. That’s why essays suck. Nobody likes writing essays in school because it’s basically a lesson in following directions rather than creativity. You’re graded on things like the header, format, spelling, grammar, and sticking to the subject. You don’t get a better grade if you go off on some brilliant poetic tangent about spherical objects in a formal essay about Catcher in the Rye. And I think that’s a shame.

I guess I wish someone in my educational history would have said, “just write,” instead of “write about this, just like this.” Maybe I wish they would have said it to everyone else more than myself. I always liked to write however I felt like writing, so even though it would have been exciting for me to do it in class, I did it on my own anyway. It’s just annoying to see so many people come to despise writing because of the way it’s taught.

So many people find writing to be such a daunting task. The amount of people I hear who simply say “I can’t write,” is wild. Especially in the comedy community. There are so many comedians who say “yeah I just can’t sit down and write.” I think they psyche themselves out by thinking they have to sit down and stare at a blank screen until something amazing just appears on the page. But when it comes to jokes, it’s less about writing and more about spending time with the joke. You can walk around, stare at the wall, act like you’re in front of a crowd, whatever… it’s all part of the writing process. It starts with an idea, you just have to give yourself the quiet space to spend time with the idea. When it becomes a joke, you’ll know. Then you just write it down.

All of the stuff that happens before the actual writing down of the joke is part of writing. Then there’s editing, which happens after and is also a part of writing. I think this is the part that scares people. They conflate writing with editing, and they say they can’t write because they don’t want to edit. Editing is where the magic happens, though, because you really have to start thinking about the joke. It’s where a bad joke becomes a decent joke and a good joke becomes a great joke. Then you take it to the stage and realize it needs some more editing.

I get the fear of writing. It still happens to me from time to time. It can be very difficult. But it doesn’t have to be, because you can write about whatever you want. As constricted as you are in other areas of your life, on the page you can always do whatever you want. You may not be able to call a small child a cunt in real life, but you can do it on the page if you want. Nobody has to read it. It won’t hurt anyone. You can just laugh and then throw it away or burn it or publish it. Well, you could try to publish it. It would be hard to get a story that only consists of you calling a small child a cunt published, but I’ve seen weirder things happen.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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