Did you know that use of humour could backfire on a writer not renowned for being a humourist? I’ve learned it. And that lesson took me more than one occasion to learn.
After a life of writing, it should be all other than strange that I’ve pursued ideas that turned out to be stupid, bad ideas. Also it should be all other than strange that I only discovered it after the story was published.
Among these stories there is one golf story in particular that stands out. It was titled If I Were A Rich Man, and it happened in my early days as an editor of Norsk Golf. The magazine was invited by some travel industry professionals to sample the best Florida could offer a golfing tourist.
The trip included flights on business class, a 5-star hotel and a Cadillac rental car. It was a difficult decision whether to go or not go. I mean; Here We Go On A Luxurious Golfing Adventure is not the most catching of headlines or ideas. Even I could see that, no matter how keen I really was to go along.
On the other hand, to turn the offer down was also tough. As a journalist, curiosity is a strong driving force. I thought I’d cracked the nut when the idea penetrated to use the famous song title from Fiddler On The Roof as the main idea, and also as the headline for the story.
In addition, we wanted to put the luxury in perspective. So we decided that the photographer should fly coach class, stay in a budget hotel and drive a compact rental car. We would publish his experience as a counterweight to the life of luxury.
However, the latter was in the story only. In real time, the photographer was flying in the seat next to me, stayed on the same floor in the same hotel and rode in the same Cadillac as I did. It was not difficult at all to write the budget side of the story. That is, after all, how we in general travel around.
I put a lot of work into the copy. Trying to hold a witty tone with several dashes of irony. Hoping that every reader would understand that in reality there was no upstairs/downstairs approach and that the photographer’s side of the story was a made up one.
Needless to say, it didn’t work that way. It didn’t take very long for my mailbox to fill after publishing the article If I Were A Rich Man. Most messages had an indignant tone in favour of the poor photographer. I also received a couple of offers for management courses and classes.
All in all: I could have done better leaving out any attempt of being funny.
I have tried to do so in this blog post. Did I succeed?
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