PWC workshop leader Donna Cavanagh, founder of HumorOutcasts Press/Shorehouse Books will share her insights at this year’s conference. A former journalist, Donna has built a national following and has been published in First Magazine and USA Today among others. An author of four humor books, Donna speaks to writers about comedy and the new age of publishing. You can also find her and some very funny writers at:




What is the most important asset one can have in writing humor?  

The most important asset one can have in humor is a thick skin. Humor is subjective. No two people have the same sense of humor, so the chances of someone not liking what you write is pretty high. You will not please everyone ever with your humor. That possibility should never stop you from your desire to make people laugh. 

Is finding a niche in humor important?

Establishing a niche is fine. Niches give writers a sense of comfort. They have a category in which to create something funny. But as writers develop, a niche might become restrictive. So the answer is that a niche should flow with your life. 

 You’ve been doing this for a while on Humor Outcasts and before as a columnist, do you respond to comments/hecklers? Or is that part of the thick skin process? What was the worst comment? Care to share? (Okay if you don’t want to!!)

I get a good amount of “hate” mail on HO because it’s a humor site, and humor is subjective, and the writers are sure to hit a nerve or two. Hate mail used to bother me, but not so much anymore.  If they are legitimate commenters who have an issue with a post, I will post the comment and respond. Most of the legitimate comments are about the site’s lack of political correctness which is true. You can’t do humor and always worry about being PC. I do not respond to hecklers who use profane language or want to remain anonymous just because they want to yell and scream because they are filled with hate. I can now tell who are legitimate commenters and who are the people whose anger fuels their comments. My worst criticism was on one of my writer’s work who is an atheist. The devout religious person who commented, went off on a tirade not about the writer’s work but about me for creating the site, saying that I was the spawn of Satan and I deserved to die a long death. He went into some detail about his wishes for my judgment day. Yep, I remember that one. For the record, I do not publish these personal attack comments. My writers rarely know when the personal attacks occur as I send them to spam and trash.

Do you try out material before you post? I know Enzo (my dog!) is a great audience for me… but… what’s your process? I think sometimes the faster I do things and not look back is better. Other times I redo a line until I want to scream. You?

Some writers try out new material extensively. I tend to read them to my dogs once and then go with my gut. I have been doing humor for almost 30 years, so I know that if I sit too long on an idea, either it dries up or I lose my interest in it. If something strikes me, I tend to post and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a dud. It’s all part of the game. 


Thank you, Donna for giving us a glimpse into what will be an informative, fun, and funny workshop.

Carol Sabik-Jaffe