The paper is foxed and brittle. The French translation, terrible. I have no idea how the original reads nor at what book sale I picked up this copy of Mémoires capitales, the French title to Groucho Marx’s Groucho and me autobiography. Learning how he came to apply his mustache with greasepaint is fun. His first encounter with Charlie Chaplin, interesting. What matters most to me at this juncture has to do with comedy and what the man has to say (or demonstrate) about it. Saying is the easier of the two. When comedy works, you laugh, period.
Why you laugh rather than shooting yourself or writhing and fainting in coils. You laugh because you ducked at the right moment and the boojum didn’t. Saved – de justesse. You laugh because the absurdities are so huge you know a temper tantrum won’t cure anything, no more than a dramatic attempt at making them understand – this last word in italics, caps and underlined. Can’t they see how desperate, grim, horrible and detestable the human condition? Etc.
In fact, they can. They do. I bet many a comedian is just like Grock, the circus clown who goes to see a psychiatrist about his deepening despondency. The psychiatrist doesn’t know the patient’s name and recommends he go to the circus and laugh his cares away watching the inimitable Grock. Marx mentions this story. It may have more to do with the original title of his autobiography than first appears.
The quiet awoke me around four AM. The quiet lasted no more than five minutes. The restless, relentless wind picked up again. I’ve lost track of the number of days now that tree branches have swayed and bent to the horizontal, trash cans and shutters clattered, and dust blown into eyes, ears and nostrils at every foray into the great outdoors. No rain yet, so no busted umbrellas. Monday. The mundane, the lists, the agenda items. Comedy, lurking somewhere, somehow, cleverly disguised as yet more dreck.