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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
From: Barry Crimmins <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 18:45:55 -0400
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Vern Crisler maintained:
>Interesting points made by most of those who've commented on this thread.  I
>should have defined "thinker" as (say) someone in the class of Aristotle,
>Aquinas, Locke, Kant, Russell, Wittgenstein, Quine, et al.  I can't really
>think of any funny men who could be classed in this category, though
>Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain probably come the closest.
>I also don't think current day "stand up" comics even approach the category
>of being thinkers, so please folks, don't offer up Whoopi Goldberg or Robin
>Williams as thinkers.  I could rest my case on such example.  (I sometimes
>have a hard time understanding how any of these individuals can be classed
>in the category of humorist. :-)

You dismiss every living comic and in the same paragraph you use a smiley
face. What pluck. What bigotry. How unintentionally hilarious. Stand-ups
can't be serious thinkers, they can't even be "humorists", huh?  Let us
know when you decide what they are so we can properly place them in your
semantic caste system.  I suggest that many stand-ups are just (gasp)
*thinkers* who need to make a living -- working class people trying to get
by on their wits. Since they only labor a few hours a night, some stand-ups
have been known to devote much of their time to research, writing and other
intellectual pursuits. Had they been born rich they would be revered for
living this way.

Vern, have you ever intentionally made anyone laugh in your life? You
should try it. You may begin to gain respect for real live performing
comedy artists. It is hard to get people to laugh. It is even harder to get
them to laugh at smart humor. But there are a number of people who can walk
out on a stage and provoke laughter with relevant and thoughtful material.
Mark Twain used to do just that on the lecture circuit. There are people
today, often called stand-up comedians, who do the same thing. They are in
the minority in their craft because most comics walk on a stage and appease
the terror they feel by pandering to the lowest common denominator. But
there are some who elevate their audience and these people are artists who
deserve respect -- no matter what you pronounce about them.

>In any case, I tend to agree that humor--like fiction--is an attempt to
>escape, to escape the rationalistic fog of too much thinking for a breath of
>the clean fresh down-to-earth air of living.  That's why I often repair to
>Mark Twain when I've gotten too far down into the blue water of
>philosophical speculation.

It is so nice Twain took the time to do some writing to help true geniuses
If they bottled pomposity your picture would be on the label.

Barry Crimmins