To listen to this post, please click here: Comedy in Seven Short Lessons
Folks who know me know I pay attention to my dreams. (A theatre piece and a 17- minute cantata are just two of the many fruits I have gathered from this practice.) Last night brought me such a clear, funny and instructive dream, I thought you might enjoy it.
I dream that Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) is informally teaching me about comedy. “Comedy Rabbi,” I think, which makes him laugh.
“Life is funny,” he says. “Don’t go making a work of art out of it. It’s funny. It’s not a procedure.” I laugh.
I am staying at his small, surprisingly humble house. The bathroom fixtures are– and here Larry David interrupts to say “I come into your dream to offer my pearls of comic wisdom and you want to talk bathroom fixtures?” I laugh. “My point exactly,” he says. “Comedy is unexpected.”
(But just to let you know? The towel racks and tissue holder are white extruded plastic from the 70’s. )
In the guest room, I see touching photographs of his family members from the shtetl to the forties. He clearly values and remembers his roots. By this he means: don’t lose touch with the real, with what needs honoring or healing.
At dinner with him and friends, I improvise a character. Their laughter is uproarious and I elaborate, to much hilarity. Afterwards I can’t wait to get back to my room to write it down. But Larry follows, postively pestering me with questions about himself. “ So did you really like my show? Tell me what you remember best. How did I look?” I wish he’d go. I want to write down this great material. A moment. Then I laugh. “Frustration,” he nods. “Classic fodder for comedy.”
I still want to write, and the longer I spend with him, the less of the character I remember. But he wants to talk, so I decide to let it go. The minute I do, he says, “Yes. The best comedy loves and builds community.”
I realize that if this character is important, she will come back to me. Larry responds, “Yup. The best comedy builds trust in the universe.”
On awakening I marveled once again how concise and entertaining our dreaming selves can be. Not only some good writing instruction, but a sly reminder not to take myself so seriously. As for that character? I’ll bet she turns up somewhere, because we all know that the best comedy has a happy ending.
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