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Maybe it's just what I'm reading these days, but the old attitude of
naw, just a clown does seem to be disappearing. Well, maybe not quite that.
Anyway, on stage, in movies, and in books it's just about the hardest thing to do:
Get your audience laughing.

Might this explain why television people are so fond of canned laughter?
Even in their live shows, they have this warm-up and the audience is cued when to laugh.
So, they seem to figure, we might as well cue the viewers. (Why don't they use smileys?)
But I'm afraid Pavlov would have shaken his head anyway.

All this goes to explain why there are not so many writers on this page.

P.G. Wodehouse
On this man, I've felt a need to say much more.
Like the funniest writer you could hope to read.

Woody Allen
His books I like much better than his movies. His early films never failed to make me laugh out loud, but later, not so.
Well, maybe I've been getting senile long since. And deaf. Dumb, I always was.
Photography, in the funnier movies, looked much sloppier than in his later work. Let this be a lesson to you.
I hope you don't need telling that the guy is much influenced by Harvey Kurtzman, and it shows.

Jerome K. Jerome
Not everybody likes his work. But in a sense he is the spiritual father of all English comical literature. Wodehouse often refers to him.
Some Dutch would use the untranslatable word oubollig to describe his stuff, meaning something like forcedly jocular.
I don't think so. Neither do I agree his only book worth reading is the justly celebrated Three Men on a Boat—H.G. Wells called it The brightest page in English literature.
its follow-up Three Men on the Bummel may not be as funny, but is quite a good book. There's more, too.
People seem to keep raving about Dickens, but when you compare his stuff with that of Jerome K., like Stevenson virtually his contemporary, it's awfully stuffy. Stilted. Desperately trying to be funny and getting nowhere. Look, I don't plan to waste one more thought on Chas. and had to get this off my chest.

Jean Shepherd
Extremely funny. He makes out like he's writing about his Indiana childhood during the depression and his time in the army
during W.W.II, but he seems too young to really remember all that. I'd guess he wasn't born before 1930. If I'm wrong, this would make his books less funny, maybe? Come on...
The guy can fill you with nostalgia for any crummy time you find yourself in right now. Is that a Gift?

S. J. Perelman
This man used to be much more popular than he is now. A pity. Try to lay your hands on some of his work; it is around.
Otherwise, you can always be consoled by having a look at Around the World in Eighty Days, for which he wrote the screenplay.

Terry Southern
Like many of us, the first thing by him I read was Candy. Talk about sudden exposure (a Milt Gross joke.)
I was hardly aware that he wrote the screenplay for Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
A very good book was not this Blue Movie, but that Blue Movie. The main difference is, the first one actually is a film
and the second one couldn't possibly be made into one. It should be filmed with the actual people that perform in the book
like Jeanne Moreau. In the first place, they'd never have done it—that was part of the fun. And now, of course, they may be sorry but it's much too late.
There has been much dust kicked up by Mason Hoffenberg, co-author of Candy, that Terry Southern grabbed all the credit. That may be as it is.
I'd rather tell you how Olaf Stoop of the Real Free Press wanted to publish Red Dirt Marihuana, a great short story. Olaf showed me the letter he got back; then, typically I'm afraid, mislaid it as they say for lost in the office world.
I'm quoting from memory that Terry wrote Of course. Anything you want to do with it. In payment, he asked for no more than a stack of Dutch porn magazines, which he got. Plenty more where they came from.

George Kaufman
He was funny. Lemme tellya a story. Critics complained that it was obvious from the dialogues in Barmy in Wonderland
that Wodehouse was not a real American, they just didn't make it—a pity, they felt.
A pity for them that Wodehouse had made a fifty-fifty deal with George Kaufman
to have this full-blooded American write the dialogues.

Will Cuppy
I bought his How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes because it was supposed to have an introduction by Wodehouse.
Then, Barnes & Noble had decided not to include the intro; they didn't even understand why I started bitching about that.
Anyway, it was very funny indeed and I'm looking for more of his stuff. He's pretty much forgotten, but we need guys like him.
Next time I hit New York, to the Library Lions and copy that intro! But the last time I was there, it didn't turn out so well.

Daan Zonderland
He's Dutch and, as far as I know, never has never been translated to English.
A pity, but there it is: it can't be done. Imagine trying to translate Lewis Carroll to any language. But that actually is easier.
Daniël G. van der Vat spend a large part of his life in London as the correspondent of Dutch newspaper De Tijd.
His weekly columns on the peculiarities of life in London were popular enough to be collected in book form routinely.
Then, he was a great writer of nonsensical rhymes, which he put to more use in his very popular books for children.
One of his pseudonyms was Daan Zonderland (countryless). You can get a taste here.
A story keeps going the rounds in Holland that in W.W.II Daan van der Vat was fout, i.e. he collaborated with the German occupation.
I have not been able to find any proof of this—but then, I didn't look very hard. It has always been extremely doubtful to me that
a man like he would have had Nazi sympathies, just as with Wodehouse; who, of course, never had any, as it turned out. One thing is true, Zonderland published in Holland during WWII, so he must have been a member of the Cultuurkamer (to which no Jews needed apply.) However, so was Erich Kästner in Germany.

Mark Twain
You will find him under adventure, just a whim. The guy won't fit in any category, not what you'd call fit.
His social comments are what I really read him for, but he always sells them with a zesty sauce of humor.

Erich Kästner
Notwithstanding his problems with the Nazis, he always kept his sense of humor intact.
Even in his really heavy books it comes shining through.




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