thumbnail of The comic arts; Episode 12 of 13
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
Ladies and Gentlemen this is our look why are reconvening the case for comedy. Sarah would you please present our opening thought. It will take a publisher of some integrity to take on a great work of you know which for example question the entire government of the United States in human. I don't think we're ready for that yet. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts and essay in sound on the humor of our times featuring the comic the humorist the joke writer the clown the Dauntless individuals who work in the world of comedy. For. The life of the humorous author is an adventure combining the principal features of hunting for a needle in a haystack with those of a wild goose chase. But the comic news says back and you heeded the siren call. So you learn to live with mystery as you search for humor's inner spark sustaining along the
way some wounds that even time will not heal. The dean of the funny writer's h Allen Smith with over 30 books to his credit still harbors an unrequited desire which has been gnawing away at his vitals all these years. I don't know if other humorous have periods of feeling sorry for themselves but I imagine that they do because the evidence of no delay as it. Comes at them so frequently. I remember I was on a television show some leading humerus. Some years ago and everybody was feeling kind of sorry about the state of humor and the state of humorous and how they didn't get any recognition here they were all on a national. TV network on a Sunday afternoon just to go on at it. And I was
shocked. Ask me what I thought about things in general and if I had any ambition about improving things and I said that I did have an ambition as a writer of humorous books that my ambition was to be read by well people. Now you know how you more books are sold the customer goes into a bookstore and says I got a sick friend in the hospital and I want something light for me. And the only people who buy humor books buy them for people who are in the hospital and have a mile and a half of stitching up their middle. And this is a terrible state of affairs. I want to get some well people to come over to my side and read my things rather than depend on all these invalids. The last novel that I wrote was the 30th book to have my name on it. And I have never had been chosen had a
book of mine chosen by any book club of any kind whatever reprints or anything at all. And I remember back in the days when I was a Doubleday author and Doubleday was one of the biggest if not the biggest trade book publishers in the country. And I was hit in the bestseller lists pretty regularly and one day I was talking to a couple of the top editors at Doubleday and the thought crossed my mind that they had an assortment of book clubs rattling around out there at Garden City. I think they had a literary Gaillard and then there were all kinds of lesser book clubs. So I said to them I said why has it happened that I never you know nobody ever picks me. One of my books for one of these. A lot of these book clubs. I'm on the bestseller list and I've got a certain amount of popularity and you'll find me on the waiting lists in the Rana
libraries and in the public libraries. A good deal of the time. And I why can't you guys give me a little financial break and let me have a book chosen by one of your book clubs even just the little old dollar book club I'll be even an alternate. Honorable Mention in the dollar book club I'd be satisfied with that. Well they told me that there was a sort of unwritten law in all book clubs that you shy away from humor. You do not pick books that are strictly speaking humorous books because of that whole wavelength thing. You will please you if they chose one of my books they said they would probably. Please. Half the members will say the dollar book club would be overjoyed but the others other had. Let's be in a fury. They'd be so mad that they'd cancel out their membership. Where would this leave the dollar book.
Well I said as far as I was concerned it would leave a dollar book club right where it belongs as every daily reader knows Art Buchwald turns out Hi Larry as columns on the newspaper deadline run. Fortunately a lot of Buchwald's prose finds its way into the pages of hard bound books. I never heard from the president directly on anything you knew just as I said in this book which you didn't mention the name by the way I was going to give that to the son of the Great Society. I said in that booklet there's two schools of thought. One is that the president doesn't read the column. You know the school says that he reads it last and I think it's somewhere in between. He reads it but he doesn't want any change in the stance or attitude going to be introduced in some of the things so many. As compared with us.
Created by you know I wanted Actually years as I say in the introduction of Truman Capote he invented the nonfiction novel and I've invented a nonfiction collection of poems. And these are collection of poems that I put out in the last two years and I'd like to get any hardcover. And. It's mostly about the Johnson era and also other things that have to do with it. And strangely enough a lot of it holds up. I thought it would hold up but it has held up quite well and material. So you agitate your typewriter keys and sooner or later the book gets born. You hope it will sell readers will laugh. But you didn't get buried too deep in the corn. But there's more than entertainment involved for even humor must do a job. So you discuss theories of laughter with a great humorist and teacher Sam Levinson.
Now I am sure that your comments and views on the importance of humor to our society our culture and our life would be a very keen interest in relations to the outer picture. I think this was discovered a long time ago of America Stoffel. Indeed century somebody is concerned himself with. The mechanism of humor itself and the fact that it was a release valve. You know. Nobody knows right. People laugh but they know they need it. The best. I think the best analysis. Of what a human does for the human being and for society is in Freud he has two Super Bessie's one called the wit and the subconscious. The other one called the technique of wit and humor. And which he explains just how this. Release takes place. And. He relates it that real humor the real God for all comes when some
inhibition. Social personal. Interpersonal some idea of hidden away and stored away is suddenly released by a frontal attack in the form of a joke. You are so relieved that this is finally coming out. Say it's a mother in law joke. You know some waiter joke that this has stood the. Exploded and the result is a spasm of laughter and a catharsis that takes place because somebody said what you had buried as an unhealthy idea. A shame though most of its existence. Let's say a joke against a teacher. You were ashamed. But then somebody comes up and tells a funny joke about a teacher and all this is suddenly evaporated and you're relieved he calls this thing. The jokes technique is what he calls evading the censor
invading the sense of what society says that you should not laugh about. You do laugh about finally and you're relieved. Now when this joke not against society but about society. It is truly great. It becomes a Gulliver's Travels and becomes a dunky holiday it becomes a great social treatise and it can be because some of them have been written that you know much. Voltaire wrote things in which it can be Penguin Island. None of these books were done tongue in cheek using that bit of evading the sense of by making it you memories yet passing serious comments upon society. This we don't have much of in America we don't have a censor today do it but we don't have a sense except that television itself and the publishing business itself acts as its own censor to the point where if somebody wrote
a book as profoundly against the entire social order as Donny hot they actually was because I was a Spanish teacher I've heard of Gulliver's Travels was against the abuses of frivolous zation you would get too many publish as if some would do it but they all look like that selling books like yourself. So now I understand anybody you know. Or if not only don't offend but cater to their animalism give me a good sex story you know give me a good murder story. It will take a publisher of some integrity to take on a great work of humor which for example question the entire government of the United States in humor. I don't think we're ready for. You take a good hard look at your humorous book. Then a glance at the years ahead is a challenge. A footnote on the pages of Time People sometimes ask me why it is that there are no more.
Young men and young women coming out of the colleges are coming out of the woodwork to take the place of the writing humorous. Who are vanishing. And they are vanishing All right. And when I say writing humorous I mean people who write humor to be read rather than to be spoken. And therein lies the answer. I think I'm quite sure that if a kid comes out of college or out of the stage and he's got the true talent the true sense of humor and the ability to put the words together and make the stuff funny. He goes straight into television because that's where the reward is a media and a reward is the greatest. He couldn't possibly dream of going through what a lot of us went through years
and years and years of apprenticeship so to speak. We've learned the hard way. We wrote for newspapers or magazines or we wrote for nothing. And until we had perfected some kind of style and a literary way that would make us acceptable to magazines and to the book publishers. But these kids today they want that Buck real fast. And I don't blame them. If I were coming up today I would do the same thing I would be right smack in. In one of the television studios writing for the comics and the situation comedies. So I believe that as soon as said Perelman and I and Corey Ford are dead and gone that I feel the slate is wiped. Player that will be the end of it. Well the slate may be cleared at some time soon but the funny book authors are not yet
gone and many a reader who prizes amusement will join in hoping their work goes on. Thanks to our good humored guests h Allen Smith Art Buchwald and Sam Levinson Parsons were prerecorded this is al la gloire for the comic arts. The comic arts series with Alice wire is produced by Michigan State University Radio in cooperation with the humor societies of America program consultant George Q. Lewis the music by Jerry Tillman. Your announcer can be cheaper. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts
Episode Number
Episode 12 of 13
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-j9609v4g).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3293. This prog.: H. Allen Smith, Art Buchwald, Sam Levinson
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-12-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:46
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The comic arts; Episode 12 of 13,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts; Episode 12 of 13.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts; Episode 12 of 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from