The Funny in Memoir: Alison Bechdel, Dinty W. Moore, and Trey Popp

Beth Kephart in Cleaver:

Writing funny, especially in memoir, is a surprisingly recherché talent. Every spring semester at the University of Pennsylvania, where I teach memoir, the ratio of funny submissions to not-funny submissions is, on average, one: everything else. This semester our funny was the work of Jonathan, who had me choking on my chortles at 4 a.m., as I read lines like these:

My mother dresses me. Everything from purchasing the clothes to what I’d be wearing that day is her decision. I don’t particularly care—after all, I have something to wear and it’s comfortable and so be it. I imagine though that this becomes a chore for her: young children grow quickly, which means that old clothes became too small, too quickly. The solution, obviously, is to buy a size or two larger and let the kid grow into it. My shirts get so big that at times they stretch to my knees. This stroke of insight and ingenuity is well received by my peers and classmates alike.

“Why are you wearing a dress? Are you a GIRL?”

Jonathan is an unassuming writer—a non-writer, he claimed, choosing (for reasons that remain beyond my reach, since he did all the work and then some) to audit the class. But he had made us laugh out loud during COVID lockdown, inside our Zoom boxes, where he appeared against a borrowed backdrop so that we would not be exposed to the ramshackle of his purportedly unkempt habitat.

More here.