Hey, Kansas City! Everybody hanging in there? It’s weird being home all the time, right? As a full-time writer, pants-loather, and curmudgeon, I was positive the stay-a-home order wouldn’t be a problem for me. But after a week or so, I’m itching to get out again. Apparently, I like people. Who knew? But no matter how much I want to put on a bra and pants and leave my house, I know I can’t. So, I’m staying home and helping to flatten the curve.
I’m not taking the COVID-19 lightly. In fact, I’ve been following the progression across the world on Twitter since December. I bought toilet paper and hand sanitizer back in January when the shelves were full.
I’m sincerely concerned about the outbreak and what it means for all of us, but I won’t stop making jokes. I’ve been a professional humor writer for several years now. I got my start as a blogger and eventually became a New York Times bestselling author. I still spend a lot of time (way too much time) on the internet interacting with fans all day, every day. They know they can come to me and I will give them a daily dose of sass, snark, satire, (and swearwords).
When the virus finally arrived in the United States, I had to decide how I was going to handle my social-media presence and my brand going forward. I never want to stick my foot in it with a poorly timed joke. When there was a tragedy in the past, I usually offered condolences, went dark for the day, and within a day or so, I could be back to the funny business.
That all changed when COVID-19 hit. I couldn’t just offer condolences and check out for a day or two. This virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s all we talk about, think about, and prepare for. My job is to make people laugh and I treat that job incredibly seriously, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Laughing releases endorphins and endorphins promote an over-all sense of well-being. Studies have found endorphins may reduce anxiety and depression as well as give your immune system a boost. I can tell you, anecdotally, laughing makes you feel better. I have hundreds of emails from people to prove it. Laughter helps them cope when they’re going through tough times in their lives. They turn to my writing to feel better. Whether they are enduring chemotherapy treatments, or dealing with depression or loss, or just had a rough week, they all need a smile. That’s why I refuse to stop.
I’m someone who uses humor to diffuse tough situations or make heavy moments feel lighter. Humor is subjective, though, and as a humorist I need to be careful. A lot of thought goes into the balance I try to strike every day. A little dark COVID-19 humor here, a lot of common quarantine gripes there, and a crap-ton of Tiger King memes spread generously throughout, because that show is a freaking gift!
We all need to laugh, now more than ever. I might not be your cup of tea (and that’s okay), but I encourage you to venture out (virtually) and find people who are your cup of tea. Funny folks have nothing but time on their hands and a captive audience, so they’re creating so much content for you and there is something for everyone out there. I hope you find someone who makes you laugh because in these uncertain times nothing feels better than a belly laugh.
—Jen Mann has been described by many as Erma Bombeck―with f-bombs. She’s the author of the New York Times bestseller People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges. She is also the mastermind behind the New York Times bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series. And she’s the married mother of two children whom she calls Gomer and Adolpha in her writings―she swears their real names are actually worse.