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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dorothy Parker on the Different Arts Involving Humor

"I don’t want to be classed as a humorist.... I’ve never read a good tough quotable female humorist.... There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. 
"[Satire’s] another matter. They’re the big boys. If I’d been called a satirist there’d be no living with me. But by satirist I mean those boys in the other centuries. The people we call satirists now are those who make cracks at topical topics and consider themselves satirists.... Lord knows, a writer should show his times, but not show them in wisecracks. Successful satire has got to be pretty good the day after tomorrow.  -- Not like Thurber and Mr. Benchley. Those two were damn well-read and, though I hate the word, they were cultured. What sets them apart is that they both had a point of view to express. That is important to all good writing. It’s the difference between Paddy Chayefsky, who just puts down lines, and Clifford Odets, who in his early plays not only sees but has a point of view. The writer must be aware of life around him."

-- Dorothy Parker in an interview with Paris Review

Still a problem in today's satirists.

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