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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern
  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Prat Fall...

Anatomy of a Prat Fall

In the days of vaudeville, physical comedy was considered funny and comics would accidentally-on-purpose fall for the comic effect. However, I've heard that falling down is only funny when the person gets back up. This makes sense to me.

I was coming to work the other day the same as always. There is a street between the parking garage and the building where I work that I hate, even though there is a street light, a cross walk, and even a pedestrian walk light.

The local bus station is on the same corner and buses are constantly pulling out and turning right on red. Some of them don't seem to know that pedestrians in a cross walk have the right of way, or else they get bonus bucks for hitting people.

The city street is very rough with cracks and patches in the asphalt that you have to walk around while watching for cars that might not stop at the crosswalk and making sure the walk light is still on.

What this is all leading up to, as you may have guessed, is the prat fall I did the other day. It was not for the comic effect and was totally unintentional, believe me. The good part is that I made it across the street before my performance or I probably would not be here to tell about it.

I thought I was being careful, but somehow I managed to stumble at the corner and before I knew what was happening, the sidewalk was coming up to slap me in the face.

Yikes, I thought, as I lay on the sidewalk looking at the concrete. I've fallen down.

I sat up on the sidewalk and waited for laughter and applause. Crashing with a city sidewalk isn't funny, apparently, as no one was laughing. My purse and lunch bag had gone one direction and my Bubba travel cup the other. Coffee was running all over the sidewalk -- not that I cared about coffee at that point.

When something like this happens, everyone pretends that they don't see you. They probably think you are drunk or on drugs. They do not want to get involved.

However, a nice man stopped. Now that I think about it, he was probably a street person.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"I think so I replied." I couldn't half see as my glasses were knocked lopsided. I didn't know if I could get up or not. Too bad no one made a video. My act could go viral on YouTube.

The man was still standing there. He seemed not to know what to do.

"Would you mind helping me get up?" I asked.

He held out his arm and, I was able to get up, actually easier than I expected.

"I'm okay," I lied, picking up my purse and lunch bag. I wondered if he liked my comedy act but I was too rattled for polite conversation.

"Don't forget your coffee, mum," said the man, still trying to be helpful, but not knowing how.

I went to my office, where I could set down and check out the damage. I straightened out my lopsided glasses the best I could. One of the lenses was badly scratched from hitting the concrete.

I decided I was going to live. If breaking my glasses is the worst thing that happens, I can consider myself lucky.

I called Honey on the phone for sympathy. "Do you need to go the emergency room?" he asked.

"I guess I'm okay." I said, holding an ice pack on my face, hoping I would not get a black eye.

So, that is my new vaudeville routine.

Some people might say that a prat fall is supposed to be done by falling backwards on your bottom. Which goes to show, I can't even fall down the right way.

I think maybe I'll just stick to writing humor from now on.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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