Saturday, February 18, 2012

Deconstructing Comedy

"Cool, Calm & Contentious" by Merrill Markoe Villard New York 269 pages $24

The back flap describes Markoe as an Emmy Award-winning writer. This is her 7th book and is said to be "the most biographical" yet.

In the first chapter, the subject is her mother, whom she describes as a "Crazy Mommy." The mother apparently existed in a perpetual snit - loved to criticise, berate waiters and in general be unpleasant to all around her.

Markoe writes, "Comedy is, after all, about an imbalance of power." I had to think about that one for a moment. And I remembered a couple of jokes -- Dangerfield's "I can't get no respect," Milton Berle's "Take my wife... PLEASE!" and yeah, comedy is about an imbalance of power.

Markoe is a good writer and she has a fluid delivery. Sample: (She's talking about how an abused childhood can drive a grown-up to become a comedienne) "But it's also lovely that show business exists to provide this kind of arena, where the emotionally pummeled can offer their wounds for the inebriated to lick."

So far (page 39) I'm liking it.

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