Funny first-person stories about doing something dangerous
September 21, 2017 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to write a funny story about a first-time skydiving experience. I need help on the technique of funny. What are some examples of short (<1000 word) stories or articles about doing something dangerous for the first time?
posted by storybored to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Overshooting the length mark a bit: Public Radio show This American Life has a memorable story called Squirrel Cop (about 20 minutes long). This is recollection of a then-rookie cop in wealthy suburb, and got a call for which nobody is prepared-- a squirrel in the attic, and a beautiful woman who needed rescuing from it. More about the idea of being really unprepared to deal with the problem than the danger itself, but danger manages to turn up anyway. Transcript here.

Speaking generally, some of the humor is going to come from the banality of danger-- when one is up to their eyeballs in hazards, one gets glib about the danger and overly conscious of the unimportant stuff. Anecdotal humor ensues.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:39 PM on September 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also came to recommend Squirrel Cop. It's the first thing that came to mind when I read "funny, 1st person story" (it's a family favorite that I heard again a few weeks ago). As mentioned above, the story is about potential danger, i.e., neither cop involved thought they were about to do something especially dangerous. Fortunately, although the situation got seriously/hilariously out of hand, actual damages were relatively minor.

I highly recommend listening to the story, rather than reading the transcript. Much of the humor comes from the delivery—it's as if the narrator still can't believe how events unfolded that night.
posted by she's not there at 2:48 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure on the word count, but a U.K. comedian, James Acaster, has a book out called James Acaster's Classic Scrapes based on a segment he had on a radio show (the book is an edited, refined, and in some cases expanded, version of the radio segments). Skydiving is one of his scrapes. Radio version here; the book/audiobook is well worth a listen. It isn't all danger, though, but much of it is a dry and hilarious rumination on openness to new people and experiences.
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 3:18 AM on September 22, 2017

It's way over your word limit, but as you've not had a huge number of answers, and in case it's in a library near you for you to flick through, The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a comic novel about a group of hapless explorers attempting the first summit of the thus-named mountain. Most of the comedy comes from the relentless parade of things that go wrong, and the fact it's obvious to everyone except the narrator that the rest of the party loathes him. As an example of comic writing about being completely out of your depth yet blindly determined to achieve your goal, it's a classic.
posted by penguin pie at 6:14 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

The first thing I thought of was Surviving Anxiety by Scott Stossel. His recounting of a bathroom incident at the white house, and his attempt to face emetophobia via exposure therapy are amazing. (and funny to me, who has struggled with anxiety in very similar ways)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:47 AM on September 22, 2017

I've been skydiving a couple of times. Once was on a first date. (That's funny right there!)

Here's some fodder for ya: Spent all day training on the right way to land (first your feet, then your ankles, then your knees then your hips, then roll on your back, always keep your legs together). Actually landed feet first, squat down, hit butt, legs apart in a ditch. Coulda been bad but I walked away.

Second time was with a low wing plane. You grab hold of a bar at the trailing edge of the wing and roll out the door. You end up flapping with your feet in the wind "Indiana Jones" style. Then let go when the jump master tells you. My gf grabbed hold of the bar, rolled out and immediately let go without waiting for the jump master's "okay" (weak upper body strength). Minor flub.

Jump master on second time briefed us. "Now when you grab on and roll out, I'm going to tap you on the helmet when it's time to let go. And when I do, that's NOT the time to start a conversation with me. I don't want this to be like:

"Who me?"

"Yes you."

"Let go?"



"Yes, now!"

"If you want to start a conversation with me I will peel your fingers off the bar if I have to."
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 7:12 AM on September 22, 2017

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