By Melinda Munson

I’m officially not funny. 

The Alaska Press Club announced the results of their 2021 state-wide contest. I didn’t place for humor writing. Last year, I was awarded third prize. This meant that for one year, I was the third funniest columnist in the state. Not bad for a mostly stay-at-home mom who bought a newspaper for $20 a week before the pandemic. 

I reveled in the title. If I told a joke, I expected my husband to laugh. “I’m kind of like the third funniest person in the state,” I would remind him. “Large and small print.” (It wasn’t going to my head at all.)

Skagway News’ other co-owner, Gretchen, did place in the humor category – grand prize. This is a relief. The town can rest peacefully knowing they will be sufficiently entertained every other issue when her column appears. Her win is my win. It would just be better if they took out her name and replaced it with mine. Just kidding. Kind of. 

Looking back at last year’s columns, I can see why I didn’t get pegged as the funny lady. My writing mostly focused on separation, loss, anger, financial uncertainty: all the feelings that swirled around a tourism town with little tourism. Mix in the struggles of raising multiple kids with mental health issues and things start to smell like the wastewater treatment plant on a heavy cruise ship day.

Since I wanted to polish my funny bone, I made sure to get tickets to David Sedaris’ Skagway book reading in May. The man with the distinctive voice and biting humor has sold over 10 million books. He knows how to do funny.

While I waited in line to get my book signed (I hadn’t read it, I only listen to Sedaris) I made what I thought was benign conversation with the woman in front of me.

“What does one say to David Sedaris?” I asked. “I’ve been thinking about it all month. He’s probably heard everything … Do you call him Mr. Sedaris, or David? Are you nervous?”

“I wasn’t until now,” she stammered as she took her place in front of the country’s best humor author, glaring at me.

I think I need to lighten up.

Sedaris drank a lot of water and his pants were surprisingly and charmingly just a little too short for someone with a lot of money. (I write this knowing he never reads anything about himself.) Mine were too short too, so I felt like we were in the same awkward summer pants club.

I was enthralled by nearly every part of the show, although I didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would. That’s when I realized, sometimes you have to get through the serious parts to understand the underlying humor.

While I’m no David Sedaris, I was named first place winner of the 2021 Susan Nightingale Award for Best Columnist. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and leave the humor to Gretchen. 

Thanks for reading. Really. Thanks for reading.