Dear Jim,

Although my father and brother both disapproved of our relationship, things were going great with my boyfriend— he treated me almost like a princess.

But it seems of late that he has lost all his mirth. He lost his father recently and his mother remarried very soon after, which must be tough for him to deal with but all of a sudden he’s like a totally different person.

Until the other day he’d always remained the perfect gentleman. He took me to this play he’d produced and spent the whole time making crude comments and lewd suggestions. I want to be strong and be there for him, but I’m beginning to think that things are never going to work out between us.

And now on top of everything he’s killed my father!

Am I crazy to have my doubts?

     Dane in Distress, Elsinore

Dear Dane in Distress,

It’s only natural to have doubts about your relationship during clearly what is clearly a tough and stressful time for you both.

Guys can often forget that they’re not the only ones suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. What you have to do is remind him of your existence and your needs as a woman.

Try talking almost exclusively in riddles or singing songs about virginity— and if that fails nothing says ‘notice me’ quite as emphatically as a suicide.

Dear Jim,

I went to see my ex-wife today only to find the mutilated corpses of her and her ‘friend’ in the front courtyard.

Now I’m worried everyone will think I did it.

What should I do?

     Innocent of Los Angeles

Dear Innocent,

I assume you’ve already written a public letter expressing your innocence?

Try acting innocent— you know what they say, ‘innocent by name, innocent by nature.’ Your best bet is to go for a relaxing drive in an SUV to show you feel reflective but clear of conscience. There is a small chance that some people will interpret this as fleeing, which is why a novelty face-piece is essential— maybe a fake beard?

Dear Dr Jim,

I’ve recently discovered that whilst I’ve been working overtime to keep my carpentry business afloat my wife has been seeking solace in the arms of an omnipresent deity and now she’s pregnant with his child.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to lose my wife, but I know she’d be better off with Him. I mean he created all life in less than a week and he’s always there for her whilst I could only knock out a few cabinets in that time. Of course I’d have to spend so much time working I’d barely be present, let alone omnipresent.

And now with them having a child in the way it just feels like I’m the one in the way.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to lose my wife but I want to do the right thing for her and the baby…

     Cuckold Carpenter, Nazareth

Dear CC,

I’ve heard from many men in your position, and believe me, it always ends the same— the omnipotent lothario soon tires of his mortal matrimonial meddling, whilst the woman becomes desperate to rid herself of such a controlling, overbearing presence.

Stick out the rocky patch and get ready for parenthood. Christmas is a stressful time, and the new arrival won’t make things any easier!

Heil Dokter Jim,

I’ve been married to the love of my life for less than three days and already we’ve hit a rough patch.

We already had like, this massive row over the honeymoon— I wanted to go to the Bahamas or maybe Vegas but he wanted Russia. But he just sent all his work buddies instead and decided we’d just stay in our poky little bunker instead.

It’s ridiculous. Maybe it would be okay if we were alone but we live with his best friend and their whole family. They’re always getting together and making jokes or coming up with crazy schemes and here I am— his new wife— with only his stupid dog for company. I don’t even like dogs!

But that’s nothing next to what he wants me to do now. When he came over and whispered that he wanted us to do something intimate together I thought he finally He wanted to do something a bit kinky— I mean he’s the guy that was all about coprophilia when he was trying to get into art school!

But no, he’s got hold of some of those Zyklon B tablets you’re never hearing about in the press and he wants us to enter into a suicide pact.

I’m not so sure— what should I do Dokter Jim?!

     Conflcited Newlywed, Berlin

Dear Conflicted Newlywed,

I always find love can be the bitterest pill to swallow, although I’ve never tried this Zyklon B (is it anything like Ecstasy?). Anyway, the pill represents love, but only you can decide whether you want to swallow it. Unless he has a gun. And a total sense of panic.

Dear Doctor Jim,

I was created in a lab, and frankly I’m quite hideous— so hideous that my creator abandoned me!

Ever since I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by wreaking vengeance on his family, but this only makes me feel worse. I’ve discovered that it’s not looks, but actions that maketh the monster.

How can I break this terrible cycle of violence? All I want is to feel accepted.

     A Very Modern Prometheus, Geneva

Dear AVMP,

It sounds like you have a total lack of self-confidence. Try my book There’s No Such Thing As Ugly available for just $34.99 from my website,

Some day, I like to think, I will write Important Books¹. My Important Books probably won’t spark revolutions, or shine the light of justice on the unseen foundational weaknesses of the free market, or inspire a united industrial front against global warming, but they will capture, completely and for all time, the frailties and follies of the human condition. Yes, people will say after reading them, yes, this is exactly what this means. My God! How could one Australian of above average height have grasped – and so easily – the deeper meaning of the subtle movements of life?

Also, the books will sell well, and I will be very rich.

At this point the apologetic emails from women will start to trickle in, becoming a flood when I take my band on the road (somehow, in this avalanche of success, I have learned how to play guitar. And write music. And gotten myself a band. Probably in the space of one weekend).

For me, the critical response will be the most enjoyable element of my literary triumph, as academics from around the world and keen observers of the zeitgeist alike write intelligent and considered columns about the subtextual meanings of my work². They will marvel at its intricacy, they will point to the synergies that run between my novels, my short stories, and my variety show, and they will be jealous of my bank balance and A-list parties.

No matter how collegiate or New York-abiding they may be, they will repeat the same refrain: ‘Amazing! Why, not long ago, this author, this well-dressed stallion of a man, this flying king of us all, was writing pieces about how Hollywood actress Clea DuVall had super-powers and continually refused to sleep with him!’

And in response I will say ‘Fuck you, publishing industry. Give humour writers a bigger shelf in bookstores, and then maybe I’ll let you into my stylish bar.’³ (I also own a bar. While I’m going for broke here, in the future, I’ve also found true love, or, as is more likely going to be the case, it has found me. Jesus. I make such a terrible boyfriend.)

Because I like to write humour (whether the end result is funny or not is something that’s up to the taste of the audience, and by realising that, I can neatly get myself out of trying very hard, or, really, at all). I enjoy making up fictitious animals with vaguely threatening-sounding names (the Himalayan strangler tuna was one of mine). I delight in coming up with names for new illicit substances (the formula I use here is to just pick an existing country and a colour and combine them. Bolivian Red, Peruvian Gold, Yugoslavian Blue… the only time I have deviated from this approach is with the substance ‘Russian whomping sauce’, mainly because I liked the sound of it). Sometimes I invent new and terrifying countries, and, let me tell you, if you ever wake up to find yourself under a signpost that says West Namaliba, make escape your number one priority.

I got into writing humour when a friend, years ago, loaned me a copy of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I turned to the table of contents and saw pieces like I Have Slept With Five Hundred Women, I Am Friends With A Working-Class Black Woman, and Why Am I So Handsome? I knew I was onto a winner.

‘I felt vaguely ill, like the time my ex-girlfriend’s brother was brutally murdered by a sadistic graduate student at Yale. But as then, the feeling quickly passed, and I began to think about my own unhappiness.’
Introduction to the New Slavery, Neal Pollack

From there I found my way to Pollack’s website, which in turn led to my discovery of the sadly gone and much-lamented Haypenny, the humour site which in turn introduced me to the likes of Matt Tobey, Kittenpants (whose line about the correlation between the rising crime rate in her underpants and the recent influx of illegal immigrants to the same place is, hands down, one of the funniest things I’ve ever read), Gladstone, Ian Carey, G. Xavier Robillard, Christopher Monks, and Jason Roeder.

And Christ, how I hate them all, those talented sons of bitches.

‘How about a cheque for some sex that I can cash at the First National Bank of Your Underpants?’
Superpowers and How I’ve Used them to Get Sex, Matt Tobey

How can I not be envious of that?

From Haypenny I graduated to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,, Yankee Pot Roast… really, this could have kept going forever. But I found some inspiration in these guys. I started writing some of my own humour fiction, and, to my surprise, found myself enjoying it.

Admittedly, the early attempts weren’t very good. Still. It was fun.

Somewhere along the line I stumbled across Dave Barry and David Sedaris. Briefly, I contemplated changing my name to Dave.

‘The most precious gift that a parent can give to a child – more precious than material things such as diamonds, or gold, or a big mansion – is a big mansion filled with diamonds and gold.’
-Dave Barry’s Money Secrets
, Dave Barry

For the record, if you ever write to Dave Barry and ask to become his apprentice, his secretary will respond firmly, but politely, in the negative. By contrast, you won’t get an answer from Chris Carter’s representation at all, even if you include a wad of Monopoly money and a pack of Tim-Tams along with a note stating ‘There’s plenty more where that came from.’

Bookstores were a big help. Not only in widening my reading material, but also in making me think that my dreams of fabulous riches⁴ and humour-publishing success weren’t mutually exclusive. That idea got a big boost when I, out of nowhere, found Fierce Pajamas, an anthology from The New Yorker, in a second-hand bookstore. Enter James Thurber, E.B. White, Steve Martin.

‘Lying here in these fierce pajamas, I dream of the Harper’s Bazaar world, the vogue life; dream of being a part of it. In fancy I am in Mrs. Cecil Baker’s pine-panelled drawing room. It is dusk. (It is almost always dusk in the fashion magazines.)’
Fierce Pajamas, E.B. White

Don’t get me wrong. I, like many other people, enjoy laughter. And I like the written form of humour (I’m not going to go into the science of it too much, as, to quote White again, from Some Remarks on Humor, ‘Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.’ Although I will deviate from my self-proclaimed opacity to say that a very-well-placed profanity can be just about the funniest thing in the world). I even like the guys who are writing this stuff; I’m in contact with some of them. Luke Rhinehart, who wrote The Dice Man, has become an internet friend. Pollack helped me with a university assignment a few years back, Robillard offered fantastic critique on a manuscript I’m working on (and didn’t even ask for money!), and Gladstone… well, Gladstone just makes fun of me for being Australian.

The only problem is that they’re so damn good at what they do. I mean, I could probably take their skill as some kind of inspiration, but I’m just too in love with my own gnawing and petty small-mindedness. And I’d have to rewrite my revenge list.

Pitching humour writing to agencies and publishing houses, as I’ve found out, is hard work. It’s not impossible, but it’s not the kind of thing they leap at, either. However, as long as I’ve got the deep fires of envy burning in the pit of my stomach, I’ll keep trying.

‘Let me just say this-that with a shovel and a packed lunch, determination, and an up-to-date map of the sewer system, a man can get his hands on a surprisingly large amount of his de facto wife’s car’s gasoline.’
A Second Letter to Cecilia, Simon Smithson

¹ I’ll write the dick out of them.

² While simultaneously noting I have also single-handedly created a new genre: sub-sub-textuality.

³ But not you, Wyatt Mason. Never you.

⁴ First you get the money. Then you get the power. Then you get Chelsea Handler.