I recently read two books by comedians. Here is an excerpt from Craig Ferguson:
Every night at one a.m., lying in bed, I’d hear a woman sing the most beautiful operatic arias. She sounded like an angel floating between the sirens and over the tar rooftops. I later found out that she was an aspiring opera singer who worked in a local bar and on the way home at the end of her shift she would walk through the streets to her apartment singing at the top of her voice. She did it for protection, figuring that any lowlifes on the street who wanted to do her harm would think either that she was too crazy to approach or that she would attract too much attention. This delighted and impressed me. It seemed indicative of the beat of the locale – art as the best defense in a dangerous but exciting world. – Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose
Dosage: Take two tablets every six hours for joint pain.
Side Effects: This drug may cause joint pain, nausea, headache, or shortness of breath. Projectile vomiting is common in 30 percent of users – sorry: 50 percent. Bowel movements may become frequent, in fact every ten minutes. If bowel movements become greater than twelve per hour, consult your doctor, or in fact any doctor, or anyone who will speak to you. Do not pilot a plane unless you are in the 10 percent of users who experience “spontaneous test pilot knowledge.” May cause stigmata in Mexicans. - Steve Martin, Side Effects, Pure Drivel
I love Ferguson’s comment about art as defense. It is a dangerous, sad world, and to stay sane we have to find some way to navigate it. We can medicate, self-medicate, find religion, search for meaning, reach out to other human beings, or sometimes just point out what a mess life is.
Comedians are often the most thoughtful people in the room, because the soul that lets them twist the absurd into something funny also lets them experience the world so deeply. Especially the hard parts. I think that’s partially the reason that so many funny people people struggle with depression and substance abuse. What do you do with the world? How do you handle it?
Ferguson’s autobiography is shockingly open and poignant at times, especially when he writes about his family and his personal shortcomings. If you’ve ever read Steve Martin’s Shopgirl, Born Standing Up, or The Pleasure of My Company, you’d think the same thing.
Pure Drivel was a great collection of essays, and I would highly recommend you check out the following: A Public Apology, Dear Amanda, Times Roman Font Announces Shortage of Periods (Katie and Julie), The Nature of Matter, The Sledgehammer, The Paparazzi of Palto, Side Affects, Lolita at Fifty, and A Word from the Words.