Tuesday, July 12, 2016

No New Jokes

By Fred Owens
This young man I know is working out as a stand-up comic and making the rounds of comedy clubs in Los Angeles trying to get a laugh. He said, I don't know if I can ever make something of this, but I just want to be authentic.
I snorted in reply. Authentic? Nobody cares. What matters is are you funny? People come to the club to get some laughs, so give them some laughs. There are no new jokes, only jokes they haven't heard before. Forget authentic. Forget about being yourself. Forget original. All that matters -- is it funny, and you don't decide what is funny, the audience decides that. If they think it's funny, it's funny. Otherwise, it's not funny. If you believe in your material and they don't, you're dead.
My advice? Steal. Steal from the best. Steal from the old comics because they were masters, and because the young kids haven't heard that stuff. Steal from Jack Benny. Imitate his timing and his dead-pan look. Wear the same coat and tie. You're going to end up being yourself anyway.  But if you can get them to laugh  -- then you're a blessing for humanity. Get the laughs, forget about yourself.
Leading Ladies.  We will soon have three leading ladies  -- a surplus of competence and practical planning -- Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, Theresa May, Prime Minister of England, and our own Hillary Clinton, President of the United States.

Angela, Theresa and Hillary  -- not majestic like Indira Ghandi, nor regal, nor queenly like Margaret Thatcher -- but competent, measured, careful....... unremarkable in appearance... not like Golda Meir, whose face told the story of a thousand years..... no, our new leading ladies are the plain truth -- what you see is what you get -- no maternal warmth, no beauty, no creative imagination.... only the plans, and the meetings -- the long, long meetings -- and the policy papers, single-spaced and endless. They are all three too much the same and for that reason they might hate each other, as if looking in a mirror and you don't like what you see.
Angela, Theresa, Hillary -- they will be celebrated for putting things in order  -- no daring, no heroics, no drama.... we will be bored beyond relief, but it seems necessary and we might even be grateful that they were willing to take on this job.

Angela Merkel Is Not So Smart. She is admired for her stubborn intelligence, but Merkel loaned billions of euros to the Greeks and believed they would pay her back. We could almost fall down laughing -- you loaned money to the Greeks? And you thought they would pay you back?
Then Merkel welcomed a million refugees from the Middle East and she thought her neighbors would not mind. They did mind.

Quick Decision. A scant three weeks after the surprising Brexit vote, the English people have selected a new Prime Minister  -- Theresa May. Various pretenders launched campaigns, tested the waters, found support lacking, then gave way,  offering resignations with remarkable dispatch. In America we admire this brusque efficiency. Our elections last forever We wish that some of our politicians would resign -- by the dozens.

For news of England, I go to the Economist and the Guardian.  The Economist is free trade and conservative. The Guardian is leftish. Both publications favor remaining in the European Union.
Clinton and Trump. Meanwhile Clinton and Trump slog it out through the humid summer months. I cannot stand it.
"Are We on the Path to National Ruin?"  No, not in the least. But that was today's headline in the New York Times, copied verbatim from David Brooks' column. You can get scared and stressed out by reading the news. You need to pause and look out the window. The sky is not falling. The nation is whole, and it's you and me that make it whole, not these idiots who give speeches and write columns in important newspapers. I am not on the path to ruin, are you?
Four Cops Murdered in Cold Blood. This happened in a suburb of Seattle in November of 2009. But there were no smart phones recording the video. So it didn't really happen. President Obama did not come and lay a wreath.  The four cops were white and the killer was black, but there was no video.

It only matters if we get the video. Social media, live streaming on Facebook, is praised for immediate access to murderous events. There is some good to that, but it can stir passions beyond control, and it offends the dead.
Death is private. That has been our custom for ages. We do not watch people die, unless we are family, unless we are invited. It was an offense against the men who got killed in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge to broadcast videos of their dying moments. Regardless of the crime, if it was a crime, as it seems to be  -- but we are not privileged to watch this. More recent re-broadcasts of the video show the victim's image pixilated, as if a shroud had been passed over him, which is the decent thing. But beware of Facebook and smart phones -- they are powerful tools which can lend witness but also cause great harm.
 A Young Man I Know.  A young man I know seems to be breaking up with his girlfriend of several years. This can be hard going. I don't think the young man did anything wrong -- just my instinct here -- and I only said one thing, "Don't do anything stupid." God, that was brilliant. Don't do anything stupid. I wish somebody had told me that when I was young.
Frog Hospital is waking up and picking up the pace. There is work to be done.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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