‘What weather!’ was my first thought. Also my fourth, 15th and 98th. Then ‘How lovely these living creatures look, highlighted in their supple beauty against the drying landscape.’
I listened to podcasts for much of the time I was walking and from one such learned that comic Lenny Bruce had this to say about the craft of standup, which he was allowed to practice for only so long before they dragged him off the stage and arrested him. (This was of course was in those far meeker Days of Yore, before a six-year-old you could hear such language at any hour you care to name on television.)
He said the role of the comic was to say something funny at least every 15 seconds.
“Tall order!” was all I could think hearing that, even as a person who used to write funny stuff all the time.
If my heart hurt, I wrote funny. If I were bored, I wrote funny. But I found I could also ‘go funny’ when I felt so happy that my face was in danger of falling off what with all the smiling it was doing.
When someone loves you and the audience is with you, it’s easy to be funny. That’s pretty key to it, I have found. You also need the chance to speak in order to be funny. It’s hard to be funny when no one is listening to you. I remember sitting at the family supper table as a four-year-old with my grandfather, two great aunts, my mother, my aunt and my older sister. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise at those meals, and began stammering badly in an effort to be heard. Until my mother made everyone keep silent a minute and listen to me, I used to have to do physical comedy to get any attention at all, mostly a takeoff of the lady in the Playtex girdle ad.
What IS humor anyway and why do we need to produce or ‘consume’ it? Maybe I’ll think a little about that this coming week. I’ve got a little loss heading in my direction so maybe it’s time to turn jokey.
In the meantime, here’s poor Lenny Bruce, who never did get over being silenced and died two years later of heroin addiction.