Friday, June 25, 2010

The Gift of Laughter

It's a serious world out there, and it's refreshing to find things -- books, jokes, video clips -- that can make you smile or, better yet, laugh.




I tend to remember books that make me laugh, and they aren't always "joke" books or those written by comedians. I'd wager very few people read Jerome K. Jerome today, but his lovely book, THREE MEN IN A BOAT (TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG)is a long-time favorite of mine.



The first time I really lost it, I was in my high school library reading James Thurber's short story, "The Day the Dam Broke" from his book MY LIFE AND HARD TIMES. I couldn't stop laughing and finally the librarian kindly asked me to leave. I don't know why it tickled my funny bone to that extent, but it led me to read everything else Thurber wrote.



I like to read mysteries, thrillers and romantic suspense and there's not a lot of humor in those dark stories. There is, however, a surprising amount of wit in romance novels (which I also love), especially those penned by Jennifer Crusie. When I read the frozen brownie scene in TELL ME LIES - the first book of hers I read - I knew I'd found another lifetime favorite.



I love plays and movies, and laughed so hard I couldn't catch my breath when I saw Nathan Lane in THE PRODUCERS on Broadway. In the movie versions, I still prefer the classic original with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.






I guess I have a thing for slapstick, since other movie favorites include WHAT'S UP, DOC?, THE BIRDCAGE and THE ODD COUPLE - the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau version, not the TV show.









I could go on and on, which is a good thing. I'm glad there are so many things that make me laugh -- Craig Ferguson on a good night, for instance, or Jon Stewart on the Daily Show nearly every night. Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby ("Russell, My Brother Who I Slept With" always kills me) -- okay, someone stop me.





One more, although some of you might have a little difficulty understanding the lyrics -- Ian Dury and the Blockheads from 1979 (when I was living in England): "Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3."




Those are some of the things that make me laugh. What about you?

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