Whimsy can be a fleeting thing
Lady, lady, should you meet
One whose ways are all discreet,
One who murmurs that his wife
Is the lodestar of his life,
One who keeps assuring you
That he never was untrue,
Never loved another one ...
Lady, lady, better run!
I very much like people who can make me laugh. I likewise enjoy making others laugh. A sense-of-humor is a gift from God. Humor keeps us healthy, and adds to our general weal.
I am very, very unnerved by those who are humorless, who balk at frivolity.
I admire those who can make me laugh, as well. Dorothy Parker (above) could leave me helpless with mirth. A comment from Josie made me think of Dorothy, and set me to wondering about humor and the human condition. Feel free to comment here, Dr. Deb. But, seriously, back to humor, Dorothy Parker was one very fucked up girl -- almost chronically depressed and many times suicidal, nymphomaniacal, severely alcoholic, yet she offered bittersweet gems of whimsy that have gone down through the ages all the way from the heady days of the Algonquin roundtable in the 1920s, that she shared with Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcott, New Yorker publisher Harold Ross, Harpo Marx, and others -- great wits all.
Others have made me laugh, and continue to do so: Mark Twain (whom I regard as being nearly as important as Shakespeare), Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker series, too brilliantly written to even express my admiration, not to mention envy); the Marx Brothers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in their glory days, Private Eye magazine, The Simpsons, the little Martian dude in the Bugs Bunny Cartoons, and so on, and so on, and so on. I can only scratch the surface.
I like all kinds of humor -- dirty, clean and in-between. By dirty, I don't mean crude (I hate crude, and potty-humor or genital humor must be very well crafted for me to enjoy it). I like satire, love irony, but hate pratfall humor for the most part -- although I make an exception for the late and in my opinion, in his genre, 'great' Benny Hill. What I do like, probably more than anything, is irreverent humor. The world is a serious, even scary place, so the Jon Stewards of the world have a vital place within.
I came to think about humor and the creation of humor the other day when I was looking at some of my old columns. I was a humor columnist for over 20 years, and I miss writing the column to this day. I was widely read, and I even won a couple of major awards for my column, one of them a national. Ta-da! At one time I even had two columns running, one in Canada and one in England.
Yet as I read my stuff, I wondered whether I could still do it. Humor moves on, and we move on. I can follow my columns from earliest days to the last ones, and they changed. I think they improved but, as they improved, they were less broad in their appeal -- I think. More thought than guffaw provoking. Just a little less obvious.
Oddly (or maybe not oddly at all) when I wrote my best stuff I was a bit like Dorothy Parker. I was in an angst time. I was going through marriage bust-ups, assorted liaisons (that were fun, but not always healthy for the emotions), and just generally not taking real good care of myself. Yet, creatively I was flourishing. Today my life is much calmer, much more stable, much more domestic (no, I didn't say 'boring', because I don't 'do' boredom), and I'd even go so far as to say serene -- at moments.
And, in this state, I am honestly not so certain I give myself permission to be as whimsical as once I was. Maybe I don't need to. Maybe I should try. Hmm. I think I am taking this too seriously. That's just not like me.