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Fun in The Sun

Selections from the Archive

By Derek Askey, Associate Editor • May 29, 2024

The Sun isn’t exactly renowned for its humorous writing—readers are more liable to call us a sad magazine than to liken us to Mad magazine—but the truth is we like to laugh as much as the next gang of editors. Though they’re not what you’d call a mainstay, over the years we’ve printed quite a few comic pieces that, perhaps not coincidentally, have also been some of our most divisive. If you enjoyed Finn Cohen’s interview about comedy with Kliph Nesteroff this month (“Two Guys Walk into a Bar”), or laughed at Andrew Gleason’s essay “Occupation: Fool,” then take a look at some of the funnier pieces we’ve printed.

Take care and read well,
Derek Askey, Associate Editor


We printed this shortly after I started at The Sun, when one of my jobs was processing the letters to the editor. I loved Brenner’s essay—in which she sings the praises of gluten despite many who were “slandering gluten with great authority and volume, even though they never heard of gluten until last year”—and was genuinely shocked by the response it received. You can read both, as well as her answer to that response, in the link below.

Close-up of hands throwing dough onto a floured table.

© Kari Herer

Essays, Memoirs & True Stories

Prayer for Gluten

Gluten will tell you who it has a problem with, Lord, and that’s the shameless opportunists who have turned “gluten-free” from a legitimate health mandate into a “lifestyle choice” for no reason other than their own personal gain, preying upon the fear and ignorance of the hitherto gluten-tolerant masses with websites such as Glutenista.com (“on a mission to Make Gluten-Free Fabulous © for everyone, everywhere”) and the sudden proliferation of such glossy publications as Gluten-Free Living, Simply Gluten-Free, and Living Without Magazine (a self-defeating title if ever we’ve heard one, as presumably the publishers do not want readers to live without the magazine itself).

By Wendy BrennerSeptember 2014

The biggest caveat to The-Sun-doesn’t-publish-anything-funny is surely the work of longtime contributor Sparrow, whose memorable, off-kilter one-liners are, for me, a frequent source of delight. I love so many of his pieces, but I’ll share this one here, though you’d be well served to dive into all his work we’ve published.

Close-up of the nude upper half of a toddler standing in front of bushes. The toddler’s image is blurry and the toddler appears inordinately large.

© Debra Sugerman

Essays, Memoirs & True Stories

You Are an Awful Parent

When you have a baby, the world becomes divided into two types of people: good people, who love your child as much as you do; and enemies, who seek silence in public places. Now that my daughter’s infancy is long past, I have become one of the enemies. When I eat dinner at a half-empty Thai restaurant in which a baby screams for seven minutes, I am outraged. I mask my outrage out of shame, but secretly I’m an enemy.

By SparrowFebruary 2008

Sharing not because this section on “Laughter” is particularly funny (it’s not), but because the array of responses from Sun readers—deceased or absent or abusive family members, an HIV diagnosis, bullies, drug and alcohol misuse, Alzheimer’s, divorce, animal abuse—is almost comically miserable. Every silver lining’s got a touch of gray, after all, and our readers—and, yes, our editors—are as adept as any at seeing it.

Two teen girls are on swings. One girl has long blond hair and is laughing really hard with her eyes closed and mouth wide open. The other girl has brunette hair and is seen from the side facing away from the camera.

© Rita Bernstein

Readers Write

Laughter

In my family, we use humor to deal with strong emotions. My father, in particular, was known for his clever quips in times of adversity. When faced with uncertainty about the future, for example, he was fond of saying, “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.” We may not have learned how to reach out to one another, but we knew how to have a good laugh.

When my father lay dying in the hospital, my three sisters and I returned home from locations around the globe. We met at a restaurant and proceeded to have the most raucous evening I can remember. We laughed so hard that people at other tables stared. At one point, the waitress asked us what was so funny. We were quiet for a moment. Then one of my sisters said, “Our father is dying,” and the four of us burst out laughing.

Miv London
South Burlington, Vermont

By Our ReadersNovember 2003

I’m sure it has something to do with my sense of humor having not really progressed much since I was a teenager (give me an episode of Jackass any day), but I found much to enjoy in this short story by Kathleen Founds, in which a group of high-school sophomores respond to the writing prompt “Write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” Then again, maybe it’s because I’ve taught writing, too, and have seen the, um, creative directions students can take an assignment in.

Close-up of a monster’s head with large teeth and horns.

© Carlos A. Gustavo

Fiction

When Mystical Creatures Attack!

 

How The Minotaur Changed The Legal Drinking Age To Sixteen
by Juan Ramirez

He was like, “Citizenry of Congress, teenagers are going to drink anyway, so you need to learn to trust them and not have the janitor break open their lockers just because you think they have brass knuckles hidden in their gym shoes,” which I didn’t, Ms. Freedman, so I hope they make you pay for my lock. Then the Minotaur would become a celebrity spokes-Minotaur for Jägermeister. He would be in commercials with all these big blond amazonian chicks, drinking Jägermeister and doing a topless carwash. In a maze.

By Kathleen FoundsSeptember 2011

Few situations are as ripe for self-deprecating comedy as the early days of being lovesick—especially when you don’t know if the feeling is reciprocated. Ireland does his best to avoid the feeling, to little avail: “Most people my age have outgrown this kind of thing, and just a year and a half ago I started to think that it was happening to me, too. . . . What a relief to be liberated from the whole tragicomic struggle of wanting and not getting, or wanting, getting, and losing, which could all easily be avoided by not wanting in the first place!”

A man wearing a jacket and seen from the back seat is driving an older model car.

© Mark Townsend

Essays, Memoirs & True Stories

The Woman in Question

Dinner for two is a possibility. But what if it doesn’t work out? What if she’s bored to death by my rapturous descriptions of Wisconsin in the early spring, the music of love-drunk frogs pulsing in the swampy woods, those little flies that swarm over the clearings like smoke? What if she decides, as a result of our long-distance date, that I’m not potential boyfriend material, like that other woman, the anesthesiologist from Florida, who flew out to see me for a long weekend and left the next day, remarking bitterly on the way to the airport that my dog needed a bath?

By Tom IrelandApril 2004
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