When the COVID-19 pandemic forced parents and children to work and learn simultaneously under one roof, Talia Argondezzi—mom of two and director of the writing and speaking program—found she no longer had extended blocks of time to conduct scholarly research. What she did find, however, were shorter opportunities for creative expression. She put her typical topic of early U.S. literature on hold and turned her focus to comedy.
“I started writing little humorous sketches to keep my mind off things,” said Argondezzi. The goal was simply to send them to friends and share a laugh, but she’s had nearly a dozen published on humor websites.
She has reimagined quotes from philosophers and lines from famous movies, putting a pandemic spin on them and incorporating jokes about social distancing and germs. She has also written about parenting, Philadelphia, and, in a collaborative piece, issues that are more important than Bernie Sanders’ famous mittens.
Her inspiration for this new venture came, in part, from Tommy Armstrong ’20, who won the Watson Fellowship last year. She worked with him on his project, which focused on coping with depression through comedy. “At the time, I wasn’t writing any comedy, but his project really stayed with me. Tommy inspired me to think, ‘What can you do with these bad emotions that is more positive?’ We can learn so much by listening to our students.”