2 Answers

David J Lawrence Points80
Hi there. You ask a great question. I will give you the answer that I have typically given my clients--and to my students when they were writing papers (and the stakes were much lower): humor can be a very dicey thing. Nuance, timing, tone, etc. are all indispensible components of humor, but making those intangibles evident in the written word can be a challenge. Writers like David Sedaris can pull it off, sure; but he works in a whole different stratosphere than you and I do.

I think you can treat a serious topic and still demonstrate your wit, charm, and sense of humor. There is no requirement that the application or scholarship essay needs to be a tear-jerker. But I would recommend steering clear of trying to be a standup comic.
Janice Kirn-Sottilaro Points6300
For me, I generally ask clients to think of a topic that can be either funny or serious but, will leave an admissions rep. laughing or scratching their head - I always want my clients to leave an impression so going either way works but, it is all in the presentation. It is a great idea to float both funny and serious topics with your adviser and then, take to writing two essays coming back to present and see what they think. My first year as a guidance counselor I had a dad that insisted his daughter write her essay about being a star volleyball player while I was encouraging her to write something about herself that reflected growth. Upon dad's insistence, she wrote a great essay about being the star player. When she brought it in I shared that I thought it was a well written essay but, that it lacked "her face." I asked the student to write another essay this time about herself, something about herself and in the end - let dad decide which essay would be the one to go. I told her to take a week or so - she returned the next day! The second essay talked about her experiences as the tallest one in the class always, always the tallest - being at the end of the line and, on the receiving end of jokes day in and day out. This essay reflected the pain she felt growing up and how in grade 9, she thought it was time to stand up for herself writing about how she dealt with the jokes and bullying doing so in a humorous way. This particular student ended the essay with "I'm not moving to the back of the room for anyone ever again - you can see, move cause I'm not doing it anymore." It was hugely powerful, well written with a few funny lines along the way just to lighten the mood. Guess what? Dad read essay # 2 and said "Send this one!" Good Luck!

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