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Ledge writer learns ins and outs of comedy writing

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | APRIL 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Longtime writer of The Daily Iowan's Ledge, Andrew Juhl used to receive emails criticizing his writing, some simply read "kill yourself, you're that unfunny."

The 30-year-old graduate student began writing the Ledge seven years ago, when the DI decided to discontinue the section.

"It was the same sick guys making the same Brothers jokes, the same Union jokes, and the same date-rape jokes," Juhl said. "I've made a joke in bad taste, but back then it was happening every day."

Juhl took over because he believed the Ledge could be saved. He is now the Ledge editor and oversees a rotation of five other Ledge writers.

"I got a lot of hate mail because I was not a frat boy making date-rape jokes," Juhl said. "I started using excerpts from those hate mails for my ledges. I noticed two things — those ledges were really hilarious, and the amount of hate mail I got in a week went from 10 to 15 to 0."

Juhl's years of experience have taught him how difficult writing jokes can be. His response to critics has been the same since the beginning.

"Write one," he said. "And you'll see just how hard it can be."

Trisha Spence knows how hard it can be; she is one of the five Ledge writers, and she thinks Juhl has a talent for making people laugh.

"I think his humor is kind of quirky and kind of nerdy," he said. "He references a lot of things that different people understand. He just turned 30, so I don't want to call him old, but since he's been around longer, he knows how to entertain a broader audience."

Fellow Ledge writer Nicole Quist agrees that Juhl's brand of humors has helped make the Ledge so successful.

"It sounds cheesy, but I guess he has a really great dry sense of humor," she said. "I follow him on Twitter, and he always have these little witty lines, and it is always really intelligent humor that makes you think"

Intelligence is something that Juhl does not lack.

The Garner, Iowa, native graduated from the University of Iowan with a B.S. in both psychology and sociology. After graduation, he worked in the university's Psychiatry Department for six years.

"I applied to law school, I got in, I didn't really go," he said. "I applied to the medical school, I got in, I didn't really go."

Juhl is now in graduate school at the UI pursuing a Ph.D. in program evaluation. But he doesn't plan on abandoning his position as Ledge editor anytime soon.

"I want to keep it a nice column, that makes me sound old," he said. "As long as they continue to let me be in charge of it, I'll be happy to run it."


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