MIAMI COUNTY — Ohio Chautauqua engaged the local community in Troy and Piqua on Thursday with daytime programs, including a writer’s workshop held at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.
Scholar Susan Marie Frontczak, who portrayed popular newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, who published 15 books before she passed away in 1996, on Tuesday evening, came as herself to the Hayner on Thursday to talk about “Hooked on Humor — Bringing Humor to your Stories.”
“Everyone has humorous stories in their lives,” Frontczak said, adding that everyone has experiences and things in their lives worth sharing.
Frontczak shared a story from her childhood when she was 6 years old and participated in a play that her sister put on in their house. Frontczak talked about how she had one line to speak in the play, but she messed up a word in the line, causing people in the audience to chuckle and her to repeat the line until she got it right.
“I learned two lessons from this experience,” Frontczak said. “It’s okay to be laughed at on stage.” She found she could use that laughter to her advantage. The other lesson was, “I turned one line into three.”
In making a case for humor, Frontczak said, “It can help get a point across … and it helps people remember a point.”
In an interactive discussion, audience members also suggested that humor helps people relax, helps people connect, and grabs attention.
In regard to punch lines, Frontczak discussed the timing or pacing of jokes and how a joke should come together at the end. “In writing, Erma Bombeck actually worked quite hard on this,” Frontczak said.
In regard to what makes something funny, suggestions included the delivery of the joke, if the joke or subject matter has a double meaning, and breaking an expectation about the subject matter.
Frontczak went over a number of exercises with the audience, including having the audience practice saying jokes with a serious expression, as well as other writing exercises.
More to come
The Ohio Chautauqua evening performances will be held at Hance Pavilion in Fountain Park in Piqua, 1300 Forest Ave., each evening from today until the final performance on Saturday evening. The doors open and music begins at 6:15 p.m. and the characters take the stage at 7:30 p.m. each evening.
On Friday, scholar Jeremy Meier will discuss Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy at noon at the Piqua Public Library, for youth. Scholar Dr. Sally Ann Drucker will also return to talk about women in advertising media at 2 p.m. at the Piqua YWCA, 418 N. Wayne St., Piqua, which will be for adults.
In the evening, scholar Dr. J. Holmes Armstead will portray Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Davis was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American general officer in the United States Air Force. Some of his missions included escorting bombers on air combat missions over Europe.
Music will be provided by the American Kings.
On Saturday, Armstead will discuss “America Emerges as a World Power 1940 -1970” at 11 a.m. at the Troy-Miami County Library, 419 W. Main St., Troy, for adults. Frontczak will also return to discuss “Legendary Children’s Stories from the mid-20th Century” at 2 p.m. at the Piqua Public Library, which will be for youth.
On Saturday evening, Meier will portray Robert F. Kennedy, a politician and lawyer from Massachusetts. He managed his brother John F. Kennedy’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in addition to serving as attorney general and junior senator from New York.
Music will be provided by the Piqua Civic Band.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com