Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Whit

When it comes to famous humorists, terminal depression is a nice-to-have, but nothing kick starts the good times like a rampant case of alcoholism. Parker, Cook, Sullivan, Stewart … All the great wits seem to share three things: Insight, irony, and cirrhosis. Then again, who doesn’t hate liver?

Ah well, yes. I’ve been breaking a cardinal rule again and reading bios. Let me tell you, in a biography, no one gets out alive. You never close one and say, “That was a pleasant life, and the people were ever so sweet.” No, you read some humiliating allegations about a fascinating person, and by the end, slam down a book stained with guacamole and Coors, and sigh: “Thank you Jesus! for sparing me the curse of genius and wealth.”

Anyway. I don’t need a bio to bring me to that conclusion. Genius makes your head hurt and great wealth requires – arithmetic. And either one means subsequent publication of a whole lot of nothing that shouldn’t mean anything to anyone anymore no how.

(I just discovered Peter Cook. Watch the clip, don't read his bio. Peter Cook.)

21 comments:

Cafe Observer said...

That's fine for you 2 bee spared de curse of genius & wealth. God blessed you, I guess. However, since we're all gonna share in the curses, I'll just take my chances with those two & leave the rest 2 you.

As far as Sarah Jessica Parker & Rod Stewart - please don't spread any rumors that will be included in some future bio.

Wayne said...

I've been Peter Cook's biggest fan since I was a wee lad. His bio is on my bookshelf but now I'm afraid to read it.

Mademoiselle Gramophone said...

Oh you haven't been spared, my dear, not in all ways or things.

Shell Sherree said...

Hee heeeeee!! I'm not convinced that you've dipped out on the genius gene, though, Hiker. Very droll, you are. {Thanks for the Peter Cook clip. That's my kind of biography.}

Julie said...

Not sure where these other wits fit: Oscar Wilde, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Tony Hancock, John Cleese.

Some were alcoholics, others were depressives ... all were blokes ... well maybe not Wilde ...

... are blokes in the case of Cleese ...

pasadenaadjacent said...

Sober wits make the best speakers at AA meetings.

PJ said...

Well, I've had bio-disappointment myself. Then again, there are parts of my biography that I would rather not read, like the fact that my father was always an alcoholic, not just when I was old enough to understand the idea that he drank too much. I think he thought he was a genius but he was just my dad. I wonder if that just isn't enough for some people.

wv genes
I kid you not.

Anonymous said...

He's brilliant.

GG

Margaret said...

Ok. Fess up. Who else have you been reading about?

Desiree said...

Um. Which Sullivan and Stewart?
Gilbert O'? Jimmy?

Also, are we (I mean we, the you and I kind, not the mocking we) making a virtue of necessity?

Witty and wise as always, AH.

Margaret said...

To wit: That clip was pretty darn hilarious. Thank you for that. (PS: Now I know what's wrong with my novel --not even naked dancing ladies in mines)

altadenahiker said...

Ok margaret, I'll be Beryl and you can be Stella, dancin' about.

Dez, for some reason I've got about 80 open books right now, and one is on the Algonquin crowd, so David Ogden Stewart and Frank Sullivan.

Ken Mac said...

oh lord sister!

Shanna said...

A very funny clip and of course I always enjoy reading your blog.

Jean Spitzer said...

"[I]n a biography, no one gets out alive." I loved this essay and the Cook video. More naked ladies, indeed.

BANJO52 said...

That miner bit is great comedy. Don't know why I haven't been more aware of him. Thanks.

altadenahiker said...

Hoo-rah! Coal in 3 million years time.

Mademoiselle Gramophone said...

Peter Cook is funny as hell. Thanks alot.

Is it true that some people in Altadena do not have running water? It's that private water company thing? How insane.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Nice Video !! I Always love reading your Blog !!Great Post.

Ken Mac said...

thanks for the well wishes, Karin. I have another surgery on the 12th to scrape the bladder wall...such fun...but hopefully clear (clean?) sailing after that...

Laurie said...

Some of the funniest stuff I've every heard came from audio recordings of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore drunk in a studio together. Honestly, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my whole life.