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2005-03-28 - 4:47 p.m.

“Whenever I get tired, that’s usually when I decide to wax philosophical.”


I’m not sure why it is that at the late moments of drunken evenings, or even worse, those evenings where the day has gone on and on and on, without reason or without any drug to blunt its impact, these moments are the ones when I suddenly decide to start getting babblicious about the weird syllogisms coagulating in the back of my head.

“My friend had this theater class, and they started talking about Comedy, and this girl in the class starting saying something like ‘All humor comes from destruction. It all comes from hurting someone else.’ So my friend railed on her.”

This is a more-or-less accurate description of how I told that story making the walk to a Path Station late on Sunday night. I’m sure if I had decided to depict it in prose there would be much more detail, a few less ‘and’s and it would have been a lot more dialogue heavy so I could give the little each of the speakers a little more character.

“He started talking about Marx Brothers, but I would have gone with Woody. I mean, I know you could say his humor is all about being self-effacing which just means the hurt is turned in, but so much of his humor is about absurdity.”

Written out I wouldn’t have been able to cope with the word humor used twice in the same sentence. A quick trip to the thesaurus would have been mandated.

“That’s what I think it’s all about. Absurdity and abstraction.”

“You would.”

“I mean it. Look, the two things that set human beings apart from other animals are crying and laughing.”

‘Behaviors’ would have been than things.

“You laugh because you recognize the absurd. You can picture something that doesn’t exist, and when you picture it breaks from your expectations so wildly, that you react with laughter. Crying is the same thing. You don’t cry when you break up with someone because they just left the room. You cry because they just left your life. You imagine all the things you will miss, the way things will be different, emptier. Tears aren’t a reaction to the immediate moment, but the aggregate of thousands of imagined moments in the future.”

This wasn’t as bad. A bit of pithy here and there, and put in a fairly forthright manner. This happens when I get to speak out some theorem. They tend to follow a form of logic and hence give me the opportunity to flow from one point of the syllogism to the next with calm rational progression. Waxing philosophical is usually just slang for drolling out a proof.

“Think about it. When you see comics they’re always talking about sex and swearing, and mocking respected officials. It’s all a part of the absurd. Breaking a taboo is another kind of absurd. Most people have a certain decorum when it comes to sex stuff, so when you hear someone bluntly be honest about it in disgusting terms in public forum, it’s absurd. You’re not supposed to do that. Instead of revealing or presenting the absurd, you are the absurd, and there’s the funny. Kaufman was all about that.”

At this point in my little lecture, I’m surprised someone on the train platform, my company included didn’t belt me in the mouth. Instead she just buried her head in my shoulder and took a nap while I rambled on.

“Why the realization of these moments has such an immediate physical effect, especially tears, I don’t get. How would that evolve? I mean, did the human species need some way of physically exorcizing absurdity? That it needed release to accept it?”

Rhetorical questions. Never good. I hate question marks anyway. They just look weird.

“I wonder if being able to imagine something that does not exist, could not exist, or to gather up all the myriad of things that could exist rather than what does, you know, without some action to make the confusion real and release it, that it would gum up the works. I mean, like Lenny says, “What is, is what is, and what should be is a terrible terrible lie.” Without it you get vertigo. Well, Sartre says that. But maybe that’s what crying and laughing are. A physical release from the vertigo of consciousness.”


Now we have mixed citations that are probably incorrect.

“You know how women always say the thing they want most is a good sense of humor? I still think that’s bullshit. I mean, you don’t see women lining the blocks around a club when Gilbert Godfrey shows up, but still, maybe that’s the thing. Maybe the reason women connect laughter and love, is because it’s a sharing of the absurd, or the imagination. When you laugh at the same things, or you make each other laugh, it’s like a communion of the most private and inherent…attributes of our being, or soul, or whatever.”

A lot of that could have been clearer. A few jumps in the reasoning could have been better fleshed out to drive the point home. Given my audience was barely conscious at the time, it didn’t really matter though. Whatever point I was trying to make only had impact on her unconscious.

“So then, even in its most virulent and puerile form, even if it surrounds negativity, humor isn’t centered on hate, it’s actually about communion…about love.”

“I still think it’s inappropriate to tell a story about how your friend's uncle taught you how to fashion a condom out of a Glad Lock bag at the diner table.”


I sometimes wish I had the eloquence I can sometimes manage at the keyboard. More often I wish for the restraint.

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