Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Not So Funny?*
First of all, when I write, I write for myself. It doesn’t really matter if no else gets “it.” I’m putting pen to paper (or in the case fingers to computer keyboard) to express my feelings, capture a moment in this fleeting life. My main purpose? I’m trying to develop my sense of humor. It’s a hard task, I’ll tell you.
I'm primarily of German descent, an ethnic group that takes everything so seriously. Which is wonderful if you’re trying to get a loan or get to school on time. Germans are quite good at punctuality. They’re also excellent at pastries. My Grandpa Richard and Grandma Rose made a scrumptious coffeecake. I can still taste the almond filling (which I actually suggested). Germans are also known for their incredible beers, although they can pose for those of us predisposed to alcoholism.
We Germans (although I do have some Polish blood too, thank God) have to learn to lighten up a little. I have an uncle who visits his mother’s grave every day. Yes, every day (or so he told me). I hope he eats a good liverwurst sandwich while he’s there. I read in Bob Newhart’s book “I Can’t Believe I’m Doing This” that Germans don’t make good comedians because they are so literal. It’s so true, and it’s also our downfall when it comes to relationships. We take everything and every word at face value. We, as a group, need to lighten up or we’re going to die young even if we are taking seven vitamins daily.
So while I’m blessed to have that Teutonic ancestry, it’s also a curse in some ways. We’re an incredibly independent and proud, we don’t like to ask for help. That must be why I'm working out so hard at the Y to develop my arm muscles. It's so I can lift boxes in my apartment on my own. There are days when I wish I were a little more Irish even Jewish because of the relationship issues my family seems to have. The Irish? They seem to be more easy-going, and they can joke a lot along with their pints of Guinness. Jews? Gosh. They have humor built into their food. No wonder there are so many Jewish comedians. Jerry Seinfeld is one that comes to mind most prominently. But there are others.
So I am trying to work on my sense of humor basically save my own life or I will go crazy. I read a lot of books along those line, most recently Newhart’s book. But I’ve also read late radio comedian Fred Allen’s tomes. He’s a hoot. Steve Martin’s recent biography isn’t so funny. He strikes me as more of an intellectual than a comedian. Late comedian Steve Allen has a couple of great books on writing comedy, and how to become more humorous. I highly recommend those!
Even better are funny movies - but not the crude rude movies by Will Ferrell. I like the silent films - Harold Lloyd works hard at being funny, so does Buster Keaton. They inspire me to practice writing funny every day. Some of it is on my blog. Other times I pen letters to friends and family. Letters seem to be the only real way to connect with people now - everyone seems to be in a rush. Emails are so impersonal. Consequently, letters - the kind you drop in a blue mail box on a nearby street corner - are more powerful. Lately, I've dropped into that box correspondence addressed to my best friend, a couple of brothers (I have 7), a sister, my mom, my nephew, my and sister-in-laws. A letter, especially one that I slaved over for 45 minutes, is a gift. If the recipient doesn’t like the contents, well, that’s not my issue. I have had some positive response (and some negative) response, but I’m still going to write missives and send them out like missiles. It’s fun, and I swear, my life is changing for the better or I like to think it is or I'm truly insane.
* The above top is another version of the Santa Monica T. This is sewn from another scallop-edge remnant at Vogue Fabrics.