Since I wrote this post, Frank Warren has had to withdraw the Post Secret app because people just couldn’t play nicely.
When Frank Warren launched the Post Secret blog in 2004, it was a lark. “A creative prank,” he calls it. He gave out 3,000 postcards to strangers around Washington D.C., and asked each person to write a secret on it and mail it to him. And they did. And people still do.
To date, Warren has received more than half a million secrets. Enough to fill four bestselling books (and then some). Once a week, he posts a carefully curated selection on the blog. Sunday Secrets is a highlight of my week.
Some of the cards are scrawled, many are works of art. The secrets are sad, funny, shocking, about love and sex, loneliness and anger, moral slips and personal habits.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great story about celebrities trying to win the New Yorker magazine’s cartoon-caption contest.
And the operative word is “trying.”
Zach Galifianakis got so frustrated, he finally gave up. Roger Ebert tried 107 times. Maureen Dowd wrote at least one caption I think was funnier than the winning caption. Remember that as you read the rest of this post.
I entered the contest once and never again. The more I tried, the less likely I was to come up with not just a funny caption, but anything at all. My mind would go blank.
According to University of New Mexico anthropologist Gil Greengross, that means I’m not a funny person.
Greengross and psychologist Geoffrey Miller conducted research designed to explore humor ability as it relates to mating success, and they used the cartoon-caption contest as a way to judge participants’ humor ability.