Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Are You My Mother?

This week, my cat Dickens died. It was sudden and very unexpected. The next day, something magical happened that can only be a message from my kitty. What was it? You’ll see, in today’s video.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Visit my website http://www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

 

Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Are You Good Enough?

A little pep talk, as we drag on during The Covid Pause.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

** You can read the poems here:
https://notesfromthefunnyfarm.wordpress.com/category/exquisite-quarantine-project/

Visit my website http://www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Exquisite Poems and Folk Songs

It’s been fortyleventeen days since the last Funny Farm update, which included some tears and an update on my gray hair. Today, it’s play time! I introduce viewers to my Exquisite Quarantine Poem project and play a song or two on the recorder. Make sure you have your earplugs handy.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem.
And here to read the poems.

Visit my website http://www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Catch me in “Duesy”, part of Teri’s Play Date play reading series

Greetings, my friends! I hope you’re staying healthy and finding ways to stay creative during The Pause!

With everything cancelled this until at least June, my very busy calendar of events has come to a screeching halt, and that includes all improv shows as well as being part of a local theater production. Fortunately, my very creative and clever friend Teri Foltz came up with a way for her theater friends to still perform – with recorded readings of her short plays!

I was delighted to read the role of Teri in the short play “Duesy”, about her dog, Duesy. Fred Tacon read the role of Duesy.

I also read stage directions for “Magpie”; you can find all of Teri’s Play Date videos on her YouTube channel.

Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Joan Baez, Gray Hair, and I’m Sick Of This (Part 2)

After whinging on about being sick, I forgot to give an update on my hair. Priorities, people, priorities.

Part one of today’s update: https://youtu.be/cUsZ7TmI3yM

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Visit my website www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
See all of my videos on my YouTube channel
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: A Toilet Paper Update

 

Today’s topic on Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: A Toilet Paper Update (and Bandit makes his Five Minutes debut).

A few days ago (March 18 at 5:30 PM, to be exact), I put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and told you I’d let you know when it was used up. Ta da! That happened on March 23 at 6:30 PM. One person (give or take), one roll of 1000 sheet single ply toilet paper, five days. The original post was here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU3Xm…

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Visit my website www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
See all of my videos on my YouTube channel
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: Working from home

Because of the Covid-19 virus and the need to help flatten the curve, maybe you’ve been forced to work-at-home. Congratulations! You’re joining millions of people who’ve been working at home for decades.

Maybe there was a time when, because you worked a “real job”, you called a friend or family member who worked at home and said, “Little Jimmy has a fever and they won’t let him come to daycare. You’re home all day. Can I send him to your house?” or “The furnace repairman is coming between 9 and and 5 pm. Can you go to my house and let him in? You can even hang out there all day. I have HBO.”

Admit it. You’ve always envisioned us sitting around all day in our pajamas, watching Netflix and eating Cheese Doodles.

Well, haha. Jokes on you. Only two of those things are true.

But hey, we work from home folks are nothing if not compassionate, and we’re happy to welcome you to the club! Here are some tips to help you acclimate to your new lifestyle.

Continue reading “Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: Working from home”

Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: Love Your Neighbor

I had a chance to get my hair done at the salon this past weekend, before the NYS mandate that shut down non-essential businesses went into effect. I muse about the decision whether or not to take the appointment, and how this relates to our responsibility to love our neighbors, in this episode of Five Minutes from the Funny Farm.

 



This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.


Visit my website www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
See all of my videos on my YouTube channel
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Five Minutes from the Funny Farm: Gnats, Toilet Paper, and Gray Hair

In today’s episode of Five Minutes from the Funny Farm, I relate the story of the gnat that flew up my nose, introduce my experiment to see how long one roll of toilet paper actually lasts, and bitch a little bit more about my gray hair.

 

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Visit my website www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
See all of my videos on my YouTube channel
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Hello! It’s Five Minutes from the Funny Farm!

 

For a while now I’ve been wanting to create some videos – short funny sketch pieces, or podcast-like segments, or just me rambling about something for a few minutes. You know, take my creative stuff to another level, branch out, play more.

But I’ve been afraid to experiment because 1) I don’t know what to do with video once I record it, and 2) I don’t know if anyone even would be interested.

So the idea has languished in the dusty attic of my creative mind.

Except now we’re in a state of National Pause, my normally jam packed calendar is empty, and I’ve realized that I’ve been letting fear stop me from exploring a creative idea that I think would be a lot of fun.

Joanne, you’re such a creative hypocrite.

And so, much like my idea to create a booth where people could come and ask any questions – an idea that I sat on for two years before, on whim, finally  jumping into with both feet to create a popular Fringe show – I’m jumping into the video arena with nothing but a laptop camera and some tea-fueled optimism. And probably a lot of barking.

Introducing Five Minutes from the Funny Farm – a look at what happens when you lock a humor writer who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. (Fortunately for Darling Husband, he still gets to get out to go to work.)

Stay tuned for periodic videos. Keep your expectations low, people. Very low. That way you won’t be disappointed.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Visit my website www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
See all of my videos on my YouTube channel
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Insomnia

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

In yesterday’s blog post about the free writing exercises I did in a session with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, authors of Queen of Your Own Life, at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, I mentioned a column that had run in Refreshed Magazine that won a 2015 Evangelical Press Association Award. I’d been surprised to learn about the honor, because I didn’t even know the column had been submitted to the contest.

I’m not really big on awards, but I will say that I am really proud of the fact that this column won an award from a religious organization, despite the fact that there is zero religious content. It’s just a general, humorous piece, and it got a perfect score from the judges, proving that humor doesn’t have to fit into a box to resonate with readers.

“Insomnia” was borne from a free writing exercise; I set a timer, wrote, and hoped something wonderful would come out. Success.

Here’s the column. This was pretty much what I wrote in the 10 minute writing sprint. See, you don’t have to be a genius to be a writer. You just have to write.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

INSOMNIA

It’s after midnight and I can’t sleep.

I have a column due in the morning and I have no idea what I’m going to write about, so I keep turning over thoughts in my head. The problem is that the column ideas are being pushed aside by weightier items demanding my attention.

Take the fortune cookie I ate today. Continue reading “Insomnia”

Back To Work (No Kidding!)

photo courtesy of Pixabay

(This column originally appeared in Refreshed Magazine, February 2015)

People always tell me that I’m good with kids, usually after I’ve entertained their three-year-old by asking stupid questions like “I like your sparkly shoes. Do you think I could borrow them sometime?” and “I can’t seem to find my tail. Have you seen it anywhere?”

The ironic thing is that I’m not actually good with kids. I like kids, one or two at a time, in a supervised environment, for a limited period of time. Put a bunch of kids together in one room and my anxiety level quickly shoots into the red zone. Add in a few babies, and you’re guaranteed to hear screaming and crying.

And the babies aren’t usually very happy, either. Continue reading “Back To Work (No Kidding!)”

The Trouble With Technology

The state of the art fridge has a camera that lets you see what’s going inside the fridge, without opening the door.

Dear readers,

Last week, our clothes dryer died and, while shopping for a new one, the salesman, after enduring my constant exclamations of “For god’s sake, I just need it to dry my clothes, not cure cancer”, gleefully took me to the refrigerator section to show me a model that not only connects to WiFi so you can surf the internet (from your refrigerator door), but also has a camera that allows you to see the inside of your fridge without opening the door. That way, while you’re standing in the middle of Wegmans thinking “Do we really need milk?”, you can just use your smart phone to look inside your fridge and get the answer. With a price tag of $3185, I think you’d have to avoid purchasing a lot of extra milk before that fridge paid for itself. But as my friend Tammy says, some people have too much money.

The fridge of the future, complete with a WiFi connection.

Anyway, apparently our refrigerator saw the dryer go out the front door last week and, not wanting to miss out on whatever fun it imagined the outside world holds for aging appliances, yesterday decided it was also time to retire. I spent an entire day shopping for a replacement that would fit not only our budget but the weirdly shaped kitchen in our 90 year old house.

Needless to say, we won’t be getting the $3185 model the salesman demonstrated for us last week. I just want a refrigerator that keeps milk cold and ice cream frozen; if it has a working light inside? Bonus. (True story: I actually forgot that refrigerators have lights inside, so I was pretty jazzed about that feature. The salesman, recognizing the depth of my technology ignorance, added, “And it’s LED, so you don’t have to worry about buying those expensive light bulbs.” Wait. You can buy replacement refrigerator light bulbs?)

These recent appliance adventures reminded me of a column I wrote a few years ago called “The Trouble With Technology,” so I thought I’d share it again. It’s a bit dated…or is it prophetic? You decide. I just got an email reminding me that my car is due for its annual inspection.

oxoxo
Joanne

PS: “The Trouble With Technology” appears in my book, “What the Dog Said“, .the royalties of which will pay for a half-gallon of milk to store in my new refrigerator.

Continue reading “The Trouble With Technology”

Dance of the Jingling Multitasker

This is NOT what I looked like belly dancing. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.)

I’m trying to make a pie crust, which isn’t easy to do when you’re also trying to write a column. It’s not that I’m a terrible baker or a terrible writer. I’m pretty good at both tasks (although my presentation of words is much prettier than my presentation of pie).

No, my problem is that I’m a terrible multitasker.

When I was a kid, the running joke was that I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. I probably couldn’t run and tell a joke at the same time either, but we’ll never know. When I was in kindergarten, I got run over by a classmate doing laps in the gym. That pretty much put me off running for the rest of my life.

I used to feel inadequate because of my lack of multitasking abilities, until I learned that multitasking isn’t the ability to do two things at the same time. It’s the ability to quickly switch back and forth between two tasks. That’s a little better, but not much help when the tasks you’re doing need to appear as if they’re simultaneous.

Like when you’re belly dancing. Continue reading “Dance of the Jingling Multitasker”

Mama Mia, Don’t Break The Pasta

(This column originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Refreshed Magazine)

(photo December 2015)
(photo December 2015)

Over the holidays I noticed a new product on my grocery store shelf: half-sized spaghetti. It’s basically plain spaghetti, but half the length of regular spaghetti and touted as the “perfect size for any pot” because there’s no need to break it in half.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, have we become so lazy as Americans that we can’t break our own pasta in half?

I posted that sentiment, along with a photo of the box of spaghetti, on my Facebook page. My intent was to generate discussion about the way we rely on convenience items and technology to do everyday things we really should be doing ourselves. I’m not even talking about things like relying on GPS instead of reading a map. I’m talking about using electric staplers and wearing self-tying sneakers.

The little rant made sense to me, so imagine my surprise when instead of people talking about the laziness of half-sized spaghetti, I was hit with a barrage of replies that all shared the same message: Never break the pasta.

Yes, dear readers, the fact that we’re too lazy to break our own spaghetti is a far less serious offense than the fact that anyone would dare to break spaghetti in the first place.

The debate over pasta size included comments from my friend, Bob, who regularly cooks a variety of delicious-looking Italian dishes for his family and shares the photos on social media.

“Never break the pasta,” he wrote. When I asked why, he replied, “You’re not supposed to break it.”

For the record, I don’t break the pasta; I know not to do that. But why am I not supposed to do that? I asked the question again and again, and dozens of people responded. The conversations went something like this: Continue reading “Mama Mia, Don’t Break The Pasta”