The biggest fear of any humorist is that when he makes his bid for laughter there won’t be any. This makes him hum with tension and he lives his life waiting for the shoe to drop. Even when he hears laughter he isn’t sure whether people are laughing with him or at him .
Nothing is more intimidating than writing something funny and discovering that no one noticed the humour in it. Then, like a haunted man the writer stumbles about home and office waiting for absolution in the form of someone saying, oh that was hilarious.
Otherwise all he can feel is wretched and rotten and kick himself for having chosen to engage in this dangerous sport.
Serious writers carry none of this baggage. The more unintelligible the quicker their audience is awed. All they have to do is sound profound and that isn’t very difficult. Besides, they don’t particularly have to care if anyone laughs or not, there is no such acid test.
And as far as they use big words and come off solemn no one ever calls their bluff. If you want to be funny you cannot say ‘ insofarmuchas’ or ‘weighing the pros and cons’ or ‘putting things in the balance’ or even ‘it is time to get down to the nitty gritty.’ Not much laugh there.
The flaw lies in the fact the human race still equates laughter with trivia, it is a sideshow, something pleasant but not really a full blown competitor to the seriousness of life.
Consequently, you cannot package it as a profession. Think of it, a young person walks into the room and tells his parents he has made up his mind, he is going to be a humour writer.
After the parents have stopped reeling from the shock they say, we didn’t hear you right.
You did, says the apple of their eye, I want to make people laugh.
The father is horrified, the mother begins to weep, the two sisters say, we knew he was a twerp, always told you.
The father says, you cannot do this to us, it is a question of the family name, I didn’t send you to college to fritter away your life in jokes, life is not a joke, son, you have to take it seriously.
I am, says the son, very seriously and I am serious about wanting to make people laugh.
As the family goes into mourning the fact that humour is in its infancy is once again underscored.
In a world where people are ashamed to laugh and women giggle behind their hands and the warmth and joy of pure, crystal laughter is still a rarity, is it any wonder that people who still soldier on in the belief that one smile, a small grin, a little chuckle, an occasional chortle or the making of a connection with a stranger in which the stranger salutes you with mirth are reward enough have to be a little odd in the head.