It seems as though the comic could not produce its disturbing effect unless it fell, so to say, on the surface of a soul that is thoroughly calm and unruffled. Indifference is its natural environment, for laughter has no greater foe than emotion. I do not mean that we could not laugh at a person who inspires us with pity, for instance, or even with affection, but in such a case we must, for the moment, put our affection out of court and impose silence upon our pity. In a society composed of pure intelligences there would probably be no more tears, though perhaps there would still be laughter; whereas highly emotional souls, in tune and unison with life, in whom every event would be sentimentally prolonged and re-echoed, would neither know nor understand laughter. … To produce the whole of its effect, then, the comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart. Its appeal is to intelligence, pure and simple.
Laughter appears to stand in need of an echo, Listen to it carefully: it is not an articulate, clear, well-defined sound; it is something which would fain be prolonged by reverberating from one to another, something beginning with a crash, to continue in successive rumblings, like thunder in a mountain. Still, this reverberation cannot go on for ever. It can travel within as wide a circle as you please: the circle remains, none the less, a closed one. Our laughter is always the laughter of a group. It may, perchance, have happened to you, when seated in a railway carriage or at table d’hote, to hear travellers relating to one another stories which must have been comic to them, for they laughed heartily. Had you been one of their company, you would have laughed like them; but, as you were not, you had no desire whatever to do so. A man who was once asked why he did not weep at a sermon, when everybody else was shedding tears, replied: “I don’t belong to the parish!” What that man thought of tears would be still more true of laughter. However spontaneous it seems, laughter always implies a kind of secret freemasonry, or even complicity, with other laughers, real or imaginary.
Bill Hicks on marketing
Andy Kaufman wrestles a 327 lb. woman
Cartman ‘Kyle’s Mom’s a Big, Fat, Stupid Bitch’
Toy Car Up the Butt
What life and society require of each of us is a constantly alert attention that discerns the outlines of the present situation, together with a certain elasticity of mind and body to enable us to adapt ourselves in consequence. TENSION and ELASTICITY are two forces, mutually complementary, which life brings into play. If these two forces are lacking in the body to any considerable extent, we have sickness and infirmity and accidents of every kind. If they are lacking in the mind, we find every degree of mental deficiency, every variety of insanity. Finally, if they are lacking in the character, we have cases of the gravest inadaptability to social life, which are the sources of misery and at times the causes of crime. Once these elements of inferiority that affect the serious side of existence are removed — and they tend to eliminate themselves in what has been called the struggle for life — the person can live, and that in common with other persons. But society asks for something more; it is not satisfied with simply living, it insists on living well. What it now has to dread is that each one of us, content with paying attention to what affects the essentials of life, will, so far as the rest is concerned, give way to the easy automatism of acquired habits.
Laughter, then, does not belong to the province of esthetics alone, since unconsciously (and even immorally in many particular instances) it pursues a utilitarian aim of general improvement. And yet there is something esthetic about it, since the comic comes into being just when society and the individual, freed from the worry of self-preservation, begin to regard themselves as works of art. In a word, if a circle be drawn round those actions and dispositions–implied in individual or social life–to which their natural consequences bring their own penalties, there remains outside this sphere of emotion and struggle–and within a neutral zone in which man simply exposes himself to man’s curiosity–a certain rigidity of body, mind and character, that society would still like to get rid of in order to obtain from its members the greatest possible degree of elasticity and sociability. This rigidity is the comic, and laughter is its corrective.
Jacques Tati ‘Playtime’
Film – Buster Keaton – Beckett -1965
Woody Allen ‘Stardust Memories’ (extract)
Rushmore, Wes Anderson (1998) – Opening scene
Stanley Kubrick/Peter Sellers ‘Dr. Strangelove’
When we speak of expressive beauty or even expressive ugliness, when we say that a face possesses expression, we mean expression that may be stable, but which we conjecture to be mobile. It maintains, in the midst of its fixity, a certain indecision in which are obscurely portrayed all possible shades of the state of mind it expresses, just as the sunny promise of a warm day manifests itself in the haze of a spring morning. But a comic expression of the face is one that promises nothing more than it gives. It is a unique and permanent grimace. One would say that the person’s whole moral life has crystallised into this particular cast of features. This is the reason why a face is all the more comic, the more nearly it suggests to us the idea of some simple mechanical action in which its personality would for ever be absorbed. Some faces seem to be always engaged in weeping, others in laughing or whistling, others, again, in eternally blowing an imaginary trumpet, and these are the most comic faces of all. Here again is exemplified the law according to which the more natural the explanation of the cause, the more comic is the effect.
This soul imparts a portion of its winged lightness to the body it animates: the immateriality which thus passes into matter is what is called gracefulness. Matter, however, is obstinate and resists. It draws to itself the ever-alert activity of this higher principle, would fain convert it to its own inertia and cause it to revert to mere automatism. It would fain immobilise the intelligently varied movements of the body in stupidly contracted grooves, stereotype in permanent grimaces the fleeting expressions of the face, in short imprint on the whole person such an attitude as to make it appear immersed and absorbed in the materiality of some mechanical occupation instead of ceaselessly renewing its vitality by keeping in touch with a living ideal. Where matter thus succeeds in dulling the outward life of the soul, in petrifying its movements and thwarting its gracefulness, it achieves, at the expense of the body, an effect that is comic. If, then, at this point we wished to define the comic by comparing it with its contrary, we should have to contrast it with gracefulness even more than with beauty. It partakes rather of the unsprightly than of the unsightly, of RIGIDNESS rather than of UGLINESS.
* from Henri Bergson’s ‘Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic’ (read the entirety)
Richard Pryor interview 1980
Chris Morris ‘Paedogeddoni’
Dylan Moran ‘Bernard’s Letter’
Sarah Silverman vs. Paris Hilton
p.s. Hey. A heads-up/warning that I’m still battling my sickness thing and feeling crappy, and that plus the fact that it’s 101 degrees F where I am could result in some crabbiness on my end today that, should it occur, I can assure you is just inadvertent, misplaced leakage. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I like that Dan Bejar makes radical shifts in his work, but I do agree that ‘ken’ is truly fantastic and one of my favorite Destroyer albums to date. He’s an almost unparalleled genius lyric writer too, for my money. Plus, an awesome seeming guy: He let Zac and me use a Destroyer track in ‘PGL’ for free because, he said, he loved our first film’s title, ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’, which, it’s true, could easily have been lifted from his lyrics. My friend has two film roles in a row that require him to have gained a lot of weight, the Cheney role being the second of the two. For that one, yes, there are prosthetics galore. Never heard of Prayer, no. I’ll search, thanks. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thank you. I’m coddling it, but it’s being very stubborn. ** Sypha, Hi, James. ** Misanthrope, Sweet, thank you, George, old buddy. ‘Call Me By Your Name’ … oh, that film. The intergenerational one. I think it’s too mainstream for me, but, yeah, curious to see what happens. I’m sure people will be noisy about it. Well, that’s quite good news that that LPS seems to be taking things seriously now. In the nick of time, it sounds like. Gosh, obviously, I hope he stays that course. But tentative relief for you guys, at least, and that’s something. Let me know, as ever, how it goes. Thanks for your well-wishes. Yeah, this virus or whatever it is hasn’t been cooperating with my battling and powers of positive thinking, but, I mean, it has to give up at some point. ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie. He was a dude, yeah. I used to always just take his considerable charms for granted when he was alive. The cold or whatever is persistent. I’m super fed up. How asshole-ish of it fuck up my vacation. I mean, really. So rude. Sorry you’re being haunted by health ghosts too. Did you get the scripts in order over the weekend? Good sounding cast, and, of course, a Thing-like character is pretty giddy to think about. My weekend was pretty disappointing. I did see some old friends, that was great. But a lot of lying around trying to force the energy to do stuff to the forefront. My big attempt was a concert by Aki Onda, a sound artist I love, who did a collab gig yesterday afternoon outdoors on a hillside overlooking LA. I felt bleah, but I decided to go anyway, but then the parking lot at the place was completely full, and the only parking left was at the bottom of the hill, which would have required a strenuous vertical hike to the venue in 97 degree F heat that I was incapable of, so I had to turn around and go home. Not a great weekend. But, hey, we’ll see about today. May your Monday be the least sunny and hot day in the history of our planet. Love without a single cough, Dennis. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! No, it seems the boy who does the Ambrose Haunt has taken this year off for unknown reasons. Sad. I agree with you exactly about ‘Get Out’. Your opinion and mine are one. I’m glad your weekend created contentment at least. I just laid out my mostly miserable weekend to Jamie up above. No haunted houses. I’m waiting for Zac who’s supposed to come to town this week. Today I’m going to try hard to kill this illness thing off by chug-a-lugging espressos or somehow, although, like I said at the top, it’s 101 degrees F here, and I’m not hopeful. Oh, well. I trust your Monday was way better than mine is going to be. That seems like a safe bet. But how was it? ** Black_Acrylic, Ben, howdy. He is, he is. You won the thing! Awesome, sir! Did you guys win something material? ** Nik, Hi. VP is really specific. And he inhabits his specificity with a consummate grace. One of a kind, as they say. Inimitable but unrepeatable. I love the sound of how your cave hunting went. I’m giving my cold thing until tomorrow to vaporize, otherwise I’ll … I don’t know, ha ha. When do you present the one act to the class? Congrats! ** Okay. I’m giving you a brief one day break from Halloween, so I guess enjoy it if you do and can, while it lasts. See you tomorrow.