Monday, November 29, 2004

Making People Laugh Is Not Taken Seriously

Or Being Funny Isn't Serious. Or Wipe That Smile Off Your Face. Or ... well you get the idea.

What I MEAN to say is lately, I've been hearing a number of wise people mention this.

First a fellow blogger friend up from Washington DC mentioned it to me standing in Urban Outfitters next to a pile of pants and a Ms. Pac-Man game, the store in Harvard Square, and I was looking rather preoccupied, but I heard him loud and clear and it was a very wise thing he said.

And then today, I watched Moonstruck and the director, I think it was Norman Jewison, or perhaps the writer John Patrick Shanley, said it -- that they lost an oscar to The Last Emperor and how often in Hollywood, it seems as if comedy is not "serious enough" to gain certain honors, when anyone who writes comedy knows how truly difficult it is.

It's serious work being funny. And much more difficult than being serious. You can be serious within a wide range and pull it off. If you're trying to be funny, it's a very narrow walk you walk and either you hit it right in the sweet spot and you make people laugh or it falls flat. So flat.

Weirdly, even if you hit it just right and you have people rolling in the aisles, your work will not be as "esteemed" as movies, plays or books about people going about their "serious lives."

But I believe you have really improved a person's day, hell their life even, if you've made them laugh. Try it. It's not easy.