Discussion Board

Topic: humor book inquiry

From: Ben Ohmart
Location: Albany, GA
Date: 06/25/2010

Hi. I'm collecting a book of responses to just one question:

Why isn't comedy taken as seriously as drama?

That is, why does drama win awards more frequently and is put
in higher regard (generally) than comedy, when it's SO
important to have a laugh and (some say) much harder to do.

Even if you disagree with the premise, I would welcome your
(serious) comments, regardless of length. If used, I would
be pleased to send you a copy of the book when it's ready,
and you will of course receive credit for your quote.

I will be publishing this book through BearManor Media,
which has almost 300 entertainment books in print. I've
written books on Don Ameche, Joan Davis, The Bickersons,
Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, etc, and I love humor. This is a
pet project for me, and I really appreciate your
attention. (I already have responses from many, including
Buck Henry, Piers Anthony, Rhonda Fleming, Monty Hall, etc.
which I state not to name drop, but to show you that this
is a serious comedic inquiry!)

Thanks very much.

Ben Ohmart
P O Box 1129
Duncan, OK 73534-1129

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Greg Bear
Date: 07/20/2010

Great question. Imaginative literature and comedy have a lot in common--they're both very tough to do, and they both get (almost) no respect! I blame all the teachers who snatched away our copies of MAD MAGAZINE and stuffed SILAS MARNER back into our grubby little fists. Our revenge, of course, is that we get to make the jokes and imagine the alternate worlds where comedians and science fiction and fantasy creators win Pulitzers. That would be funny... Another category of entertainment that gets very little respect is children's book and young adult writing. Class clowns and nerds and kids don't count. Get serious, folks!

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Chris
Location: England
Date: 07/20/2010

My guess is it's because it's nigh on impossible to predict with comedy what will stand the test of time. You may think that shouldn't be an issue, but my suspicion is that it would be. Not just because something may not be considered funny by a future audience, but also because it could even be thought to be offensive with the way what is thought to be politically incorrect can change over time.

In short: avoid giving awards to comedy, stand less chance of looking a fool further down the line.

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Greg Bear
Date: 07/20/2010

Perhaps--but Aristophanes is still around and still profanely funny. And lots of serious books are now completely forgotten--except perhaps by academics and historians. The longevity of any art is dicey.

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Ben Ohmart
Location: Albany, GA
Date: 07/20/2010

Thanks Greg! Do I have your permission to put your response in my book? You can email me directly where you want me to send your copy when it's ready.

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Kelly Marsh
Location: Everett, WA
Date: 07/23/2010

While I can appreciate the spirit of the OP, I have to wonder, is comedy really meant to be taken seriously?

I don't mean to poke fun, here, but what would be the result? Lengthy learned discussions of why Pratchett is superior to Adams regarding humor, or vice-versa? Theses written on Abbot and Costello?

Speaking of Pratchett, I think he spoke to this issue quite well through his character Verence II, who ultimately ends up as King of Lancre, but who began life as a Fool. Verence tells tales of how, as a child, for instance, he was beaten by his grandfather for having had the temerity to tell an original joke, rather than one approved by the Fools' Guild. Said guild takes its comedy very seriously.

Were I to participate in the above mentioned learned discussion, my vote would be for Pratchett. And, so I will close with a quote from him: "You can't map a sense of humor..."

Re: humor book inquiry

From: aculturemind
Date: 07/29/2010

G....Most folks need a translation of the classics even when they're in plain English. If it weren't for archival folks and stead-fast educators, even secondary or tertiary sources of the classics would exist in obscurity in a relative handful of people's collections, both physical and electronic.

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/06/2010

Soitanly. Uh... I mean, certainly. Let us all know when the book is out!

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/09/2010

Taking comedy seriously is one thing--likely very silly indeed--but giving comedy due credit as an art of equal standing with others is long overdue. Aristotle got it wrong, I think! But even he regarded comedy as essential and worthy, though below tragedy in "seriousness."

Re: humor book inquiry

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/18/2010

True enough. That's what school is for--in part, and hopefully!

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