Slouching Toward Bedlam

Confessions of a Humor Columnist Or The Inquisitor’s Tale: An Interview with Jan Kaarsvlam

Over the years, readers have contacted the CEJ with numerous questions about this column. Editor Mark Brink compiled the most frequently asked questions and conducted an interview with columnist Jan Kaarsvlam. Mark describes the interview as “challenging, yet not particularly enlightening” and describes columnist Jan Kaarsvlam as “generally disagreeable, yet not altogether affable.” When Mark was asked if he enjoyed the interview, he simply replied, “Never again.”

CEJ: Jan, let me begin by thanking you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I must admit, as your articles always reach me by way of a third party, I was beginning to wonder if you were merely a myth.

Jan: Is that why I haven’t been getting my royalty checks?

CEJ: Must be. Let’s get right to the questions from our readers. This reader asked, “Where does Jan Kaarsvlam get her ideas?”

Jan: First, I feel I must correct a mistaken impression this reader has. The name Jan is not short for Janice or Janet. Rather it is a respected and ancient European spelling of a name that is sometimes spelled Jon. In short, Jan Kaarsvlaam is decidedly male. Now, what were your other questions?

CEJ: Readers have been wondering about the teachers you’ve created for Bedlam Christian High School. Some of them seem outrageously exaggerated, but every once in a while I swear you are writing about some of my colleagues. Are these characters based on real people?

Jan: I have never based a character on a real person. Rather, every single teacher who has ever appeared in Bedlam is, in fact, a real person. As a rule, the more ridiculous the behavior, the more grounded it is in actual, historical happenings. I have merely changed names to protect the guilty.

CEJ: Is the Bedlam column in the CEJ based on the teachers in my school?

Jan: Maybe. What school do you teach at?

CEJ: Moving right along. The material in this column, though mildly amusing, frequently confuses me. Why, as a teacher, would I want to read this? How will this column help me get better at my craft?

Jan: It isn’t my job to determine why you would want to read this. That is clearly your job. And it isn’t my job to help you get better at your craft. That is also your job. Your job is also to laugh at the column. Wow. You have a lot of jobs.

CEJ: If those are all the reader’s jobs, what is your job?

Jan: What, you mean this week? Since resigning from my most recent teaching position over a misunderstanding about appropriate behavior for a teacher during a lockdown drill, I am currently driving a dairy truck.

This is an abridged version of this article. To read more, subscribe to Christian Educators Journal.