Steve Almond's America

Oct 18, 2011

"Never be deceived by a humorist, for if he is any good he is a deeply serious man moved by a quirk of temperament to speak a certain kind of truth in the form of jokes. Everybody can laugh at the jokes; the real trick is to understand them."

These are the words of the Canadian writer Robertson Davies, and I think today's guest Steve Almond will agree with them. One of the great misconceptions about humor is that it's trivial. Another is that the resort to humor amounts to a slighting of the subject. In other words, if you explore the comic side of something, you can't possibly care about it. Nonsense. Does anybody suppose that Mel Brooks was not appalled by the Nazi regime? It's more a question of how one processes reality. Do think it's possible, notwithstanding all the miseries and torments of life as a human, that we're living in a comedy? Or that every frame of existence is amenable to both comic and tragic understanding?

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