Do I exaggerate in my humor columns?

One of the most frequent comments I get about Tete-a-tete, my humor column, is, “Is everything you write about your family really true?”

Yes. Yes it is.

To some of my readers, especially those who haven’t had the pleasure of knowing my family personally, the exploits I record in print sometimes seem a little too odd to be believable. Surely, there must be some exaggeration taking place – even just a wee bit – to ensure that my columns are humorous.

No. No there isn’t. (Copious snaps to you, dear reader, if you’re picking up on the modified “Phineas and Ferb” references here.)

Although some humorists take a different approach, my belief is that the truth is stranger than fiction. Either something is funny or interesting enough that I can write about it mostly as it happened, or I don’t write about it at all.

The operative word here is “mostly.” Since my family and I need to maintain some sort of appearance of normality, I sometimes cut things out that are too strange, or avoid certain topics altogether.

Yes, you read that correctly. Some of our escapades are even more absurd than you originally thought.

Authenticity is one of the most important principles to me in writing. Whether it’s a comic book or a movie script, I dislike it when writers manipulate characters or situations in unbelievable ways in order to achieve their desired literary results. I therefore do my best to refrain from manipulation in my own writing.

Authentic writing is not easy – it takes time, and it’s a skill that must be honed – but I believe it makes for a more satisfying experience for both the writer and the reader.

And so, if you ever read one of my humor columns – say, this one, or this one – and wonder if everything in it is really true, rest assured that it is. I hope you enjoy reading about our adventures in oddity as much as we enjoy having them.

What do you think? Do you prefer humor writing that’s exaggerated or that’s entirely true?

– Teresa Santoski

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