Friday, April 08, 2011

You Write Funny

Reading some short stories and prose pieces by Jonathan Winters. Mostly they're not what I expected. Some of them would pass for Robert Walser, some for Bruno Schulz. In one, the narrator spends the first decades of his life hiding behind a couch. "I waited like a great cat, well into my twenties, to spring from behind the couch on all those people who had counted me out. I acted out their lives, their decisions, right in front of them. I was holding up this huge mirror, this golden frame, that I placed around this frightening family portrait." More what I expected (though you should read it in context for the full, darkly hilarious effect): "When I look back, you were wrong, you know, to charge me for all those dances. But I guess it's all kind of worked out. Mom wrote me that you and your husband were at the symphony, in the front row, and that somehow the harp fell over on you and broke your back." Speaking of writing comedians, when I was looking for a picture of Jerry Lewis earlier today, I found it on a "web" site devoted to collecting all of Stan Laurel's letters. Here is a bland and pleasant thank-you note that Stan sent to someone who had given him "a generous amount of vitamin tablets." It seems like a strange idea for a "web" site, but no stranger than any other. Jerry and Stan were big mutual admirers and friends. Dick van Dyke introduced them. WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS? Jerry was responsible for getting Stan his honorary Oscar. They hate giving awards to comedians.