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Vern Crisler <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 4 Jul 1998 20:09:07 -0700
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At 05:29 PM 7/4/98 -0400, Barry Crimmins wrote:
Barry said:
>I hope that intellect is not the sole domain of the dry, inaccessible and
>boring. Any dope can petrify others into a coma with his/her expertise and
>views. It  takes a certain genius to effectively smuggle content to a
>general audience. People let their guard down when they are laughing. A
>smart and subversive humorist will make sure that before that guard is
>brought back up, it protects at least a somewhat more sophisticated point
>of view.

Good points, except that I don't consider being "subversive" as what makes
someone funny.  (It usually makes them boring.)  Humor is a form of
entertainment, not necessarily a conduit for revolutionary propaganda.  On
the other hand, Twain did claim that his humor lasted because he
"preached"--though, in my judgemnt, when Twain really does preach, he's as
dry as an Arizona desert.

>Humorists are as diverse a group as, say,  any college faculty. There are
>lightweight, obvious jokesters, there are learned lampooners of all that
>deserves to be targeted. There are all sorts in between. They come in every
>gender, age, race, nationality, religion.  No hard and fast rule  should be
>applied to such a varied group of people.

Can you give some examples of current day humorists who are also profound
thinkers.  My mind is drawing a blank. :-)

> I was very impressed with Twain's views on many issues, but then, I'd like
>to think I have a sense of humor. I allow that it may just be that I  do
>not possess the intellectual depth required to make such an assessment.
>That said, if a sense of humor belies a shallow mind, why do they call it

Do you agree with Twain's views on Shakespeare?  Or do you think the main
value of his essay on Shakespeare was his tale about his arguments with the
steamboat pilot?