Angie Brennan: Humor Columnist
Life can be funny if you know where to look. Angie Brennan, a humor writer in Gambrills, knows where to look – it can be that guilt emanating from the treadmill bought and never used, the monthly book club that transforms into an unwanted lifetime commitment, or those in-home parties selling cookware we really don’t want.
If you were to tell Angie Brennan when she was a college student that she would be a published humor writer and cartoonist, she would probably have laughed. The woman who now hosts her own website chockfull of funny pieces about modern life actually began as a trumpet player at the University of Houston. “I was consumed with the trumpet,” she recalled. When Brennan realized that playing the trumpet may not work as a career, she switched to journalism. While she still dabbles in music, writing and drawing are her mainstays.
Brennan frequently spoofs modern technology and its prevalence in everyday lives. “I have my husband (Terry) to thank for that. He’s sort of a geek.” Terry, who even has a name for his Palm Pilot, according to Brennan, loves gadgets and that has rubbed off on her, and now she uses a Palm Pilot to help record inspirations for new articles. On her laptop, she gently pokes fun at the dominance of e-mail and computers in the human mindset.
For example, one of her cartoons features a man on bended knee holding his girlfriend’s hands and declaring, “Even when we’re apart, my thoughts dwell constantly on you, like virus protection software running in the background.” Brennan also penned a column about a multi-state power failure that was traced to an elderly lady who had received one of those dreaded emails directing the recipient to “pass along to ten friends, including the person who sent this to you...” but had failed to forward it to all ten.
And her blog, which helped launch Brennan’s column writing, touches on many subjects while incorporating the techie theme. Readers can learn the “Ten Ways to Know whether the Internet has Taken over your Life,” which may hit close to home. One way to know? “You’re more likely to check weather.com than step outside when deciding if you should wear a jacket.”
Brennan finds that readers respond most to her spoof advice column in which she dispenses tongue-in-cheek wisdom about daily etiquette dilemmas. A man inquired about the best way to approach his wife who had been eating “more dessert than usual” and was concerned she may need new clothes at a time when household finances were tight. Brennan responded, “Dear Clothes: Besides money, there is also the issue of health. Of yours, that is, if you insist on having this discussion with your wife. If I were you, I’d just enjoy the extra helpings of cheesecake with her...”
Brennan’s advice to novice writers is simple – “write, write, write.” She also recommends reading a lot of humor, but cautions against using the reading as a way to procrastinate. “It’s easy to do the prelude to writing,” and avoid the actual task, she observed. Brennan’s favorites include national columnist and author Dave Barry, as well as the late Erma Bombeck and P.G. Wodehouse.
While the writer has taken some classes in her profession, most of what she does is self taught. To learn cartooning, for example, she checked out books at the library. Brennan also created her own website, angiebrennan.com, that features her columns, cartoons, and even a humor shop that sells mouse pads and coffee mugs touting one-liners such as, “So many links, so little time.” Brennan has temporarily shelved the writing of a children’s book to focus on her magazine articles. “Writing a book seems daunting,” she noted. Breaking into the humor business, especially in newspapers, can also be a challenge, according to Brennan, as editors become more reluctant to publish anything that a reader may consider offensive.
Brennan has found other outlets for her work. Look for her byline in the new online magazine launched by television personality Monica Davis. Davis produced “Extraordinary Everyday People” on Arlington Community Television and PAX Television for five years, and now hosts the “Monica Davis Show,” with a similar theme. The magazine is similar to the TV shows, in featuring individuals who have overcome difficult circumstances and are now making a positive contribution to society. Brennan also contributes to a local monthly publication called Suburban Scene distributed in Crofton and Gambrills.
Brennan writes from home, where she home schools two of her three children. She squeezes in cartooning and writing between her daughter Caroline’s naps and son Paul’s studying. Her oldest son John, 14, had been home-schooled and now attends Rockbridge Academy in Millersville. John also serves as a sounding board, along with his dad, for Brennan’s work. Will the kids follow in Mom’s footsteps? It’s probably too soon to tell, but Brennan describes how “John has tried his hand at historical fiction and Paul enjoys making up stories.” Definitely signs of a pair of budding writers.