Monday Morning Musings:
“It really seems to me that in the midst of great tragedy, there is always the horrible possibility that something terribly funny will happen. Then there is also the opposite, that in the middle of great humor, that something terrible will happen.”
― Philip K. Dick “So I Don’t Write About Heroes: An Interview with Philip K. Dick,” 1996.
“Life doesn’t make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy’s job is to point out that it doesn’t make sense, and that it doesn’t make much difference anyway.”
“The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays the part.”
–Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
The play was Funnyman,
A world premiere by Bruce Graham.
An elegantly simple set and lighting
Transformed the bare stage into different rooms,
And the actors transported us to 1959,
New York City.
It was about a comic, Chic Sherman,
Based loosely on Bert Lahr—
Remember him as the Cowardly Lion?
He later played Estragon in Waiting for Godot,
Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play,
Which is frequently funny,
Although nothing happens.
A critic called Lahr’s performance “noble” and said
He “transfigured” the play.
Funnyman was not a comedy,
Except perhaps in the sense that it is about life,
Which like an absurdist play is frequently funny,
And the leads were all alive at the end,
So it can’t be a tragedy, can it?
But comedy is serious stuff.
For Chic Sherman, laughter is a matter of life or death,
Because when he was a child, his comic ability
Meant his family had food to eat,
But no laughs brought beatings from his parents.
When his adult life turned tragic,
He immersed himself in more work
In more of making people laugh,
Yet, he is a sad man with a secret,
And a grown daughter he doesn’t talk to.
The play is filled with funny moments and sad ones.
In life, too, comedy and tragedy sometimes occur at the same time
Like laughter after a funeral
When all are grieving
Then someone tells a joke
Or slips on the banana peel
And you can’t help but laugh
Because it’s funny
And life goes on.
Just like the show must
Even if an actor is sick
Or the power goes out
Or a theater is being bombed.
Boasted that it never closed during WWII,
Although “closed” was sometimes
Changed to “clothed.”
And so it goes.
The show and life go on,
The players clad in splendid costumes, threadbare rags,
Or nothing at all,
(Flashback to teenage me seeing “Hair” with my family—
and boyfriend—comedy of life.)
They move, speak, perform
Until the show ends
Until the actors take a final bow,
And the curtain closes.
An actor has to work with the lines he or she
But good performers can make the mundane sublime.
Despite the quality of the play,
Most of us hope for a long run with a full house–
And great reviews, of course.
Even if it is absurd
And no one knows what it’s about.
After the play, we bought chocolate at Shane Confectionery
Because life is improved with chocolate.
And perhaps a glass of wine.