Thanks to public school kindergarten, which has whetted my child's appetite for writing her own stories and gags, that whole pall of minor controversy that hangs over the parental blog -- How much should one draw from the life of one's child to provide material for your writing? -- has been deftly resolved by simply putting the responsibility for my blog's content directly into the hands of my daughter.
We had been talking a few weeks ago about the New Yorker cartoon caption contest and she decided to try her hand at a couple. She has not yet won anything, but we have had some productive conversations about the theoretical underpinnings of humor -- ambiguity, irony (dramatic, Socratic), the juxtaposition of disparate rhetorical elements, etc. -- and she has proven a quick study. In some cases she even sees beyond the constrictions of convention, as with the dialog she proposed as a caption for the first cartoon included here:
"What, Hairy Man?"
"You're so hairy, I can't see where you're going."
The ambiguity of language is also handled nicely (though perhaps owing a small debt of inspiration to the winning caption) in her proposal for the Mr. Potato Head walks into a bar piece included here:
"If I start looking too funny, just take off my eyes."
[i.e., "Af I s[t]or locan to fane jas tac of my izs."]
I am happy that she takes the task of humor seriously, though as with many five-year-old kids it is unintended humor that sometimes proves more satisfying, viz. this example collected in the field from one of our neighbor kids:
"Knock knock!" he said.
"Who's there?" I answered.
"A ghost who?!"
"You don't have to cry about it!"
"Uh, wait!" he said. "I mean 'Boo!'"