I’ve written more than 550 “Snide Remarks” columns in the last 10 years, and I’m not ashamed to say that some of them have been absolute crap. There are deadlines involved, you see, and writing “Snide Remarks” has never, even in its heyday, been my sole occupation. Not that that’s any excuse. I’m just sayin’.
Here are my picks for the 10 worst “Snide Remarks” columns I’ve ever written. They are painful for me to read now. I hope glancing at them will help you appreciate the good ones all the more.
(P.S. Which columns would you have put on this list? Go ahead, let me have it.)
10. “The Young and the Viewerless” (Aug. 29, 2005)
This is the most recent column on the list. The idea was that I, a non-viewer, would watch one random episode of “The Young and the Restless,” summarize it for the reader, and see if that one episode made me interested in watching the show regularly. For some reason I thought my summary of the show would be a lot funnier than it was. Turns out it’s just boring.
9. “Shutteth Up!” (Feb. 2, 1998)
I attended a BYU production of “Romeo and Juliet,” leading to this column in which I a) made lame jokes about Shakespeare in general, and b) expressed frustration with people who talk and make other noise in the theater. The Shakespeare jokes were straight from a column I’d written seven years earlier, when I was in high school, and it shows. The other stuff was just rant-y and generic.
8. “The Heppiest Place on Earth” (May 4, 2001)
One of the frequent structures of “Snide Remarks” is for me to relate some amusing anecdote from my personal life. I had done this successfully enough times at this point that I guess I thought I could make ANYTHING funny, no matter how trivial the experience actually was. This column, about something silly that happened when a group of us were at Disneyland, is proof to the contrary. It’s a “you had to be there story,” and guess what? You weren’t.
7. “An Obsessive Compulsive Christmas” (Dec. 26, 2001)
Mom always loves the columns that talk about the family, but I think even she will admit that this particular entry is complete poo. The references to “accidents and family tragedies,” “a torrent of tears,” and “medication” are all generic kinds of jokes you’re supposed to make about your family, which makes the jokes lame. What’s worse, they’re not even true of my particular family, which makes them lamer.
6. “Cover Up” (Nov. 10, 2002) and “An Embarrassment of Richard’s” (Nov. 24, 2002)
These two ran almost consecutively in November 2002, at a point when my loopy editor was trying to get me to write about important issues instead of just whatever I happened to have seen on TV the night before. She had some good points, and I did successfully write some humorous pieces on legitimate issues — but these two columns are examples of how not to do it. They’re both strident and unfunny. I loathe them.
5. “Making Fun of Strangers” (June 26, 2002)
A certain degree of elitism has always been part of “Snide Remarks,” usually balanced in the alternating weeks with a healthy dose of acknowledging that I’m kind of an idiot, too. It’s not uncommon for me to mention, as a tangent to what I’m really talking about, someone I saw in public who was dressed inappropriately or hilariously. But this column consists ONLY of that — and as a result comes across as more mean than funny. Even though you agree that a woman with bountiful back fat shouldn’t be wearing a haltertop, and that it’s silly to get a tattoo of a movie character, it still somehow seems a little offsides for me to devote an entire column just to making fun of them.
4. “Deface the Music” (Jan. 19, 2001)
In this column, I make fun of the lyrics to a song that was not particularly popular even at the time, and then joke about the opera “Rigoletto,” which the average reader has not seen. Why did I do this? I suspect it was a combination of two things: the “I can make anything funny!” syndrome (see #8), and not having anything else to write about.
3. “Off to a Ricky Start” (Aug. 27, 1999)
The title was prophetic: This was only my second week of writing “Snide Remarks” for the Daily Herald, and already I was sucking. The jokes in this one are weak and generic. It’s too bad, because the statement “this is a tragedy like none the world has ever seen,” used hyperbolically, remains in general use within my family to this day. ‘Tis a pity I couldn’t have worked it into a better column.
2. “Angry Moon” (May 16, 2001)
I believe this is the shortest column I’ve ever written (494 words), and it’s definitely one of the most insubstantial. It consists entirely of “amusing” anecdotes from my friends, which is a fairly amateurish and stupid way to go about writing your columns. “Har har! Listen to this funny thing my friend did! Har har!” The column is historic, though. The friend whose dad mooned her didn’t want to be identified (even though I had mentioned her before in “Snide Remarks”), so I came up with a pseudonym for her: Luscious Malone. Thereafter, I generally gave my friends fake names in the column, mostly just for fun. Still, this particular column was lousy.
1. “Bad Poetry? Please, Sir, May I Have Smoe?” (July 6, 2001)
I think I consider this one The Absolute Worst because I distinctly remember the circumstances under which I wrote it: I was on deadline, I was panicked, and I had NO IDEA what to write about. This column was born of sheer desperation, and you can smell it. I found some bad poetry and made fun of it. And that’s it. Ugh. Let this be a lesson to you. If you absolutely can’t come up with ANYTHING, tell your editor you can’t come up with anything and plead for the day off.