The Joyful Mysteries of Comedy
In this chapter, I propose that there is nothing funny about writing comedy—and that those who can manage it are often as mystified about it as those who may either admire or envy them or wish to emulate them. There are no rules—in fact a lack of rules often helps—but an edgy discipline, a lucky instinct, a hard-learned knowledge of theatre and more than a modicum of psychology are required. I have, of course, avoided teaching the tricks of comedy (because there are none) and, instead, I have journeyed back through my life, which (luckily) began with me inheriting an instinct for comedy. Since then, almost unbeknownst to myself, I have followed my hunger for exploring the multi-uses of comedy—from darkness, to frothy lightheartedness, to knockabout hysteria, to biting satire, to pantomime and burlesque. In the voices of those I have befriended along the way and in the reported theories of those whom I only saw on stage, I have outlined the way in which many practitioners in comedy also puzzle their way through explaining their gift, their task, their ambition. And my hope is that the reader may partake of all these journeys and, while travelling on their own particular Camino, perhaps solve a few joyful mysteries along the way.