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Do you get to laugh?
December 3, 2012 |
I just returned from a vacation on Maui, during which I walked a lot of beach listening to your CDs on my MP3. I'd forgotten some of the earlier stories, most of which kept a smile on my face (Alaska made me laugh out loud) that some passers-by mistook as a greeting to them. But it made me wonder...are you able to laugh at these stories when you write them? Do you get to enjoy them that 1st time you come up with the great lines? I know you can tell if it's funny, but do you actually amuse yourself with the humor? Or is it more work which, though you recognize it as funny and good, you don't yourself laugh at it??
What an intriguing question. The answer, generally, is No, I don't laugh at my own stuff. Laughter comes from surprise, same as fright, and its not easy to frighten yourself. I think there have been times when I chuckled, or snickered, at something as I wrote it, but outright ha-ha-ha laughter, I doubt it. People who knew my hero A.J. Liebling say that he sat typing in his office at The New Yorker, chortling at what he had written, and I've pondered that fact for years. I think maybe laughing is a skill, like singing, and I had a somber youth and didn't develop the muscle of laughter to the same extent as normal people. I am a dreadful audience member for any comedian and so I never sit down front. It'd be painful for a comedian to look at my long face for an hour ---- he or she might quit the business and go into accounting. I do laugh sometimes, big laughs, but seldom at jokes unless they're really well told, usually at surprising turns of phrase that I hear, dry humor, the humor of dark people. Certain people make me laugh, old men, my daughter, a few friends. But there is nothing I enjoy more than making other people laugh (or smile) and I'm glad you enjoyed the CDs. The most startling thing is to be on the New York subway and a woman gets in the car and recognizes me and her street face breaks into a smile. That makes my day, absolutely.