The Pirate Writer
During college a writer came to talk at our creative writing class that was being held in a massive lecture hall with about 200 undergrads attending. He'd written a book that had been turned into a major movie. Or, it was left unclear by the person who introduced him, maybe he'd been asked to write a book version of the movie after the movie had come out. That it was left unclear hints to the latter. In any case, he talked about the book and the creative process. At the end of his talk, he said that the next project he was working on was a book about pirates. The room erupted in laughter. Everyone threw their head back and had a good laugh. Then we all stopped laughing and he was still standing there. His pirate project was not a joke. When this type of thing happens, someone opens themselves up and tells you something personal, and you accidentally laugh, you can get out of it on a personal level. You can find something to cut the tension, transition, and it's over. When 200 people collectively laugh at you, it's just awkward from that point forward.