never been a bitch so I don't act bitchy

Friday, October 10, 2003

Jon Carroll is the best

I don't need to tell you that. But this classic column will remind you. It's about the fact that everything is funny. Even terrible, horrible things.

In writing comedy, I fairly often offend people. I don't have the talent or desire to be an Ellen Degeneres, taking pains never to hurt. I like comedy that has bite. And there will always be someone who has a personal sensitivity to something you're not treating with total reverence, and they get offended. It's a natural reaction. And every time I get a "I can't believe you made light of BLANK" letter, I feel bad. I do. I may be dismissive, but it always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, because I do not mean to hurt anyone. I just often do.

The book I wrote -- the one that's slowly making it's way around the publishing houses in New York -- has furnished me with a fair number of rejection letters. Now, this is not to say it's the best book in the world and no one should reject it (well, I do think it's the best book in the world and I can't believe anyone would reject it, but for arguement's sake...) -- but the book is about Sept. 11th, and as you can guess, it's not the most serious book in the world. Yes, I wrote a comedy about September 11th. A dark comedy. And a lot of the rejection letters have included something to the effect of, "This is a really good book. This just isn't the right time for this kind of book."

And okay, granted, I don't live in New York anymore, like all the publishing houses, and so I was personally less affected than them. But "sensitivity" and "timing" seem to me a thin reason to decide not to publish a book that you like.

This is not to say that the book finds humor in people dying. Not at all. It just looks at the whole thing from the point of view of a removed person. A person living 3,000 miles away. A self-obsessed, not too bright person, who suffers a mental breakdown in light of the tragedy, but continues to try to live his rather thin life. And some people find shifting the focus away from the uber-serious, to be a bit hard to swallow.

Sour grapes. Sour grapes. Yes. Many. But still. Dark comedy is still comedy. In fact, sometimes it's the best kind.

Dark things are always funny, unless it's just not a very good joke.


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