The Taftese Guide to Writing Your Own Taftese Column

The history of Taftese is a short and stupid one: My freshman year of college I started a website called ih8cgs, which I was going to start to take down the evil at Boston University known as CGS. My lack of web design knowledge and eventual realization that no freeservers template website could successfully Rage Against the Machine discouraged me, but the positive response I received inspired me to keep writing columns that didn’t have to do with CGS. After some self-taught HTML, Taftese was born in 2000. After I transferred to Missouri my sophomore year, I submitted my columns to a new pseudo-newsmagazine called echo run by the MU Student News. Echo was short-lived, but after it died, I landed a weekly column in the MU Student News for three semesters. I could have stayed on for a fourth, but I was low on ideas, and fame was getting to my head. All of the strippers and drugs left me infected and braindead, but I wouldn’t trade those wild times for

And it is that lack of ideas that has inspired me to write this, The Taftese Guide to Writing Your Own Taftese Column. For you see, my friends, I have written more than 80 of these 400-2,000 word columns, and when reading my post-college work it becomes quite evident that I have been out of ideas since my senior year of college. So if you want new columns, you can write them your damn selves. It’s not that I don’t want to write columns; I kept telling myself that I would come up with ideas and post them, but apparently full-time jobs will screw up plans of spending hours of one’s spare time updating a website.

That’s not to say that this is the end of Taftese; I’m sure I’ll post things from time to time (check back from time to time!). But for now my interests are turning in other directions. I won’t bore you with that crap. What I will do is tell you how to write your very own Taftese column in the event that you feel the need for new material with that zesty Alex Taft essence.

1. Come up with an idea
Sometimes the hardest part of writing an ingenious humor column is coming up with the idea. For the first two years I wrote a column, all I wrote about were things that irritated me, and people found it funny. It was a win-win situation. If people find you funny when you’re irritated, perhaps you could go with one of these ideas. If you don’t want to write about something that makes you angry, try to think of something that you might have an interesting or quirky take on, such as the idiosyncrasies of modern air travel. If you’re really hard pressed, just watch a George W. Bush press conference. There will be at least three columns worth of material.

2. Introduction
Usually the introduction has absolutely nothing to do with the column. You want to start the introduction out with something attention-grabbing, so that the reader will want to waste the next three to five minutes of his or her life reading the column. In general, you want to make your opening few sentences relatable to as wide an audience as possible. By the end of the introduction, you should have identified what the topic of the column actually is. This is a technique used by writers called “the inverted pyramid (see Diagram 1).”

Here’s an example of a good “inverted pyramid” introduction:

Hey, fatty! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, fatty! Yeah, you, fatty, the one eating the sandwich! Aren’t you sick of being ridiculed because you’re so fat, fatty? Well, I got news for you, fatty! I’d rather be fat than eat rutabaga! Man, do I hate rutabaga!

3. Middle Paragraphs
Like the Middle Ages, the Middle Paragraphs are crammed with as many jokes and naughty words as you can fit into a 200-300 word space. One of my favorite ways to create comedy is to make stuff up. To illustrate the editing process, let me use a made-up line that I might use to back up our topic. Watch the progression of a seed of an idea to a hilarious side-hurter!

68% of all communists eat rutabaga.
A recent study shows that 68% of all communists eat rutabaga.
A recent study showed that rutabaga has been linked to cancer, heart disease and communism.
A recent study showed that eating rutabaga even once has been known to cause cancer, heart disease, shingles and communism.

Another Taftese Trademark™ is to use a device like a Verbatim Dialogue™, a list, “tips” about something, or a stupid Taftese Guide™. Using these aforementioned techniques will minimize the need for transitions, which leaves simultaneously takes a lot of work out of the writing process and leaves more words available for comedic use. Using the aforementioned trademarked techniques will maximize the need for my lawyers.

4. Conclusion/Punchline
After you’ve delivered a few zingers at the expense of an idiot or a bitter vegetable, it’s time to wind things down and hit ‘em with the zingiest zinger of ‘em all at the end. I tend to ramble in the middle sections of my columns, so by the time I get to a concluding paragraph, I don’t have many words left to work with. So my columns tend to end somewhat abruptly, but it’s important to end with a good punchline that’ll leave them laughing, such as, “So the Supreme Court justice says, ‘Ruth Bader Ginsberg?’ I thought you said Rutabaga Ginsberg!!’”

As you can tell, comedy gold doesn’t come overnight. It comes from hours of typing and staring at a screen until you just can’t look at any more pornography and you have to get to work on your column. But now you, dear reader, have the power right in front of you to go forth and write your very own column in the Taftese style. So, yeah… um… enjoy that.

Posted March 17, 2005

Unfortunate but necessary disclaimer: All material on Taftese written by Alex Taft unless otherwise marked, except the "special guest columns." Those are works of parody also written by Alex Taft. Except for the columns by Ross. No material from this web site may be reproduced in any form without proper citation or the author's permission. To contact the author, visit the contact page. Taftese is not intended for readers under the age of 18. This site looks best when viewed with Safari.

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