thumbnail of The comic arts; Episode 11 of 13
Hide -
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 Alec why are reconvening the case for comedy. Sir would you suggest a lead in thought. I can practically take on any subject. Her writing is funny that's the only thing that isn't forgivable if it isn't funny. And I don't think I get much trouble from anybody. In fact. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts and essay and 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. If you happen to have a knack with upper hand for a way of putting things that amuses your fellow man you may get hooked on humorous writing. First only as a pleasant pastime perhaps later as a career.
From that point on fun turns to work and you must study the vagaries of public taste and forever pursue the comic muse. You rack your brain and wrestle with adults adapting your style to the changing times you observe the scene and make some notes on the going rates and the prevailing balms. The climate for humor is good today says Art Buchwald. You can write about almost any subject providing it's funny. You feel at the American sense of humor has changed much in the last 10 or 20 or even 30 years. Well I think. In a sense our work is becoming a lot easier because there are many tabooed newspapers that are no longer taboos sex used to be a taboo in newspapers and it's not any longer religion used to be quite a taboo. And that even is in a big crowd of many more. Politically you can take on I think we've passed the McCarthy
era where people were afraid to speak out and editors were afraid to print people speaking out. So I think right now we're in a very healthy period and. I can practically take on any subject. Her writing is funny that's the only thing that's on forgivable if it isn't funny. And no I don't think I get much trouble from anybody. In fact even if my articles are like for desegregation they're printed in the south. I mean the Southern editors will print it. They may not agree with it but they're printed. So I I feel right now I'm very bullish about the state of being able to speak out on things. And I don't know if this is just because I have some sort of immunity that a lot of people don't have now but it we're in a very healthy period in actually of the two in 25 I figure you mention
was last year now it's up to 350. So people are desirous of this type of thing I'm not afraid to print it. I think it's a dramatic indication of it. It also might be an indication I'll have to do my homework carefully here. New THIS IS ALL YOUR The Lancet Yeah very fit. The tide may sometimes run too fast and the writer might get left in the backwash. One of the problems in humorous prose as outlined pointedly by an author of over 30 books Alan Smith to whom you present the question What is the main thrust of humorous literature today. The main thrust backward. What I have done in this novel of mine that was published last June 1967. As I'm trying to catch up with the collapse of civilization.
There was a time when I was considered a very vulgar writer. And it is a fact that the original novel rhubarb which was published 20 years ago was burned by a librarian in upstate New York. There was a New York newspaper man who was spending his vacation in this town in New York State. A friend of mine and he went around to the library to try to get a hold of rhubarb which had just come out and he has a library and told him that the head librarian had read a portion of my book and the night before I had taken it down in the basement and burned it in the furnace. This made me feel very good and I tried to get the fact of the book
burning call to the attention of the public but nobody seemed to care much and. Rhubarb went along and have hit the best seller lists and as I remember was at the top of the bestseller list and was reviewed by some people I watched. I remember that one reviewer in Brooklyn said it was written in a sewer. Well you could read it today if you had a lot of stamina and discover that by the standards of the nineteen sixties late 1960s why clean as the driven snow are and are as to little of Bankhead said as clean as the driven slush. Actually I rather enjoyed being known as a vulgar writer because almost all.
Important writers who have made any comment at all on the Vaal Garrity and literature I have praised it and called for more ah but. Do you notice how dreary discussion of humor can become. So. So here I was as a. Celebrated author with one of my books being burned. That sort of thing and I was sitting out I went ahead and wrote a book a year usually and same style same attitude and I get a little dirty but not too much. And then one day I was sitting out on my back terrace on a summer afternoon and I happened to close my eyes and the whole world went switchin past me and when I woke up and shook my head I found out
that books like Fanny and. It was always under the counter stuff. All of my life I was right out now and being read by the college kids and all those candy books and kitten books. Oh my it was just terrific and yet here I was I found out I was the Kathleen Norris of the Atlantic seaboard. And. I debated with myself I didn't want to just turn out to be downright dirty but there's another thing that we mustn't forget about. Humorous. Let's remember that a lot for a lot of us humor is our livelihood. It sounds kind of silly but I make my living being funny. I can't pay my grocery bills unless I just settle down and get outrageously funny. And so I have to keep going.
A lot of people there are a lot of people who would be happy if I would just shut up and go crawl into a cave but I can't do it because. I have to pay those bills. So I felt as I said I had to keep up with the. Backward progress of civilization. And so I said to myself well I have rather lowly beginnings in the Middle West and nobody can out dirty me. Nobody can out barnyard me and I went to work and wrote a book called son of rhubarb. I haven't had any reports yet on whether it's been burned or not. I doubt that it has because there are far more vulgar books on the market by far. However. This if this is the way the book readers of the country want it I'm going to give it to them because I can do it.
Whether you take a lot of latitude or confine yourself to a narrow straits you work at the form that suits you best. The column the book the humorous verse light verse some lament is on the way but you look again and find a reward when you talk with poet David McCord. It's from accord with your perspective of many years in the literary field specializing somewhat humorous verse. What do you think of the condition of the national sense of humor today. I'm not too sure I think that I think that it's not as if I was healthy as I could wish you had when I was and I was going to say that and something comes over the horizon that gives the lie to it for instance John Betjeman me now a very popular British poet who is a poet much admired by a good many of his contemporaries and
Auden for example wrote an introduction just so I could parse when he comes out with his autobiography in various cause summoned by bells you know on two or three years ago whatever it was going to be Arthur printed 11 pages of that British variation. It wasn't all funny but a great deal of humor in his things and said there so there he goes on. Name so frequently had for I dreaded it had a very high end and that content if you are practicing your wrist poets and is contrary I did Nashe continues of course as strong as ever. I forget life doesn't seem to be writing very much light verse these days at least I don't run across it. She's turned to prose. Young John Updike has written two books of rares which are a high quality of your mistress that I don't know how much more
he'll do with that because he's so deep in his novels and sure in storage and occasionally a man like system who is writing when they are you know turns up and it does seem as though there are people that not only are willing to learn this very difficult craft because it is difficult to write a good library since you are a much higher than writing the same quality that is good pure poetry because there's a discipline in libraries and also libraries comes off it's like an egg it's either all good or it's all bad. As I say these these are the times that produce here over again as I go around and talk and read very specially if I'm reading. Why very British why various American my various I find that audiences respond just as well as they ever did. They really want to laugh and a great many of them just don't understand about my very first place. Most people read
libraries and they do poetry far too rapidly. They let it go. Let's say one of four lines of our good national You see what I mean you have to say it this slowly this is the termite. Some primal termite knocked on wood and tasted it and found it good. And that is why your cousin may fell through the parlor far today. Yes you have said then slowly and the great thing is that if you do it and I didn't say oh I made it take fire and their response is quite astonishing and seems to give the lie of what I just said to this day and age of travel and worried many out here isn't generated so it seems we're still in business. If we can move that funny plan to work up some laughs that might entertain our readers once again the climate is right and the need is vast. So
The comic arts
Episode Number
Episode 11 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-xd0qww9p).
Other Description
For series info, see Item 3293. This prog.: Art Buchwald, H. Allen Smith, David McCord
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: 68-12-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:44
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 11 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 August 13, 2022,
MLA: “The comic arts; Episode 11 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. August 13, 2022. <>.
APA: The comic arts; Episode 11 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