This little article serves as my warm up for an essay about humor, how it ties into facades, and what role, if any, does dignity play into this relationship. As of now, the ideas are still coming together, so if you want more specifics, wait for the Bigger Essay…I have yet to know how it will end up, except for the overall tone and concept.
The first purpose of this post: to remind people that the Phlog is going to be updated on a regular basis, and that Mr. Schwartz’s poetry post is the beginning of a good thing. So, hello, bitches. For now…
The second purpose of this post: to set establish the context for the Bigger Essay. The following list of people includes a few things I want you to know about them. My main point: humor does not always come from a place of bliss. In fact, it often doesn’t.
(I may or may not reference these individuals in the Big Essay. You may read the essay and wonder why I even mentioned them here. Again: I just want to set the tone.)
George Carlin: In a recent televised performance, he said, “…I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever…no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it’s natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse.”
Joseph Heller: Yes, his novel, Catch-22, is a comic-masterpiece, but after the half-way point, it becomes as somber as grave full of Holocaust victims. The use of humor can seem problematic and surreal (even disturbing) in the midst of death, rape, and all kinds of moral depravity. But, understand that Heller’s work shows an appreciation for life as sincere as Carlin’s disdain.
Dorothy Parker: A-class smart-ass. “I’m too fucking busy, and vice versa.” Also, attempted suicide thrice.
Richard Pryor: this man dealt with drug addiction, lit himself on fire, and let everyone know it. And he had seven marriages, and had (at least?) four kids. Also, one of the most respected comics ever.
Jonathan Swift: wrote an essay about eating Irish babies. Yes, he was only being a smart-ass, but just because he felt that the Irish were getting the shaft in terms of economics. So, like any A-class smart-ass, he shoved this fact in everybody’s face.
Mark Twain: hated a lot of people. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn seems like a kind-of-grandfather to Catch-22; full of murder, child abuse, and all kinds of moral depravity. Yes, it is funny, but any one who calls this a children’s book, thinking it’s like Barney, has not yet read it.
Kurt Vonnegut: tried to commit suicide. In World War II, witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden, and wrote a novel about war's traumatizing effects (Slaughterhouse-Five).
PS. Read more Phlog.