Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Earning Becoming

I spent quite a bit of time this morning trying to find the exact name of the exact book on how to write jokes Drew Carey checked out from an Ohio public library in order to learn comedy and to launch his career. ( I learned Carey had done this listening to an interview of Carey on NPR.)

As if there was this one “how-to-write jokes” book and it was the magic one and I had to get that single book in order to get the magic. There doesn’t seem to have been one book in particular…More likely it was a collection of books he used and selected from. I guess the idea is simply that Carey became a successful comic by reading about comedy; he became funny by reading about how to be funny...He used books available free to the public--in other words, his methods for funniness are in wide distribution and utilizable by millions and no doubt used by millions to no funny effect whatsoever. Why did reading library books work well for Carey but not for (many) others?

Carey learned to do standup comedy by reading about it…Which does seem counter-intuitive and miraculous and does prompt the question: did he really? Did he really learn that way? (Upon further reflection I understand my own nearly-subconscious feeling that Carey had discovered a magic comedy book in that Ohio library -- the ONE book capable of making the unfunny become funny...)

Why do I have a strong feeling Carey’s self-interpretation of what happened to him (he became a great comic by reading books on how to be a comic at the library,) is a wrong one?

There’s something funny and “funny” about one of the most successful comics of our time becoming one of the most successful comics of our time by reading how-to-do-it books from the library.

Do I want to be a comic? Nope.

Why was I looking for this information? I can’t really say. I don’t really like Drew Carey that much either. It might have something to do with a queer thought which came into my head yesterday as I was driving to Pro Music. I was thinking of things I’d wanted from life, for example – to write a book. In my mind, these things were exceptionally important…They made life. They gave life meaning and substance. But I have somehow found a way that they not have this life-draining substance, this hold on me…And this is not merely a “sour grapes” feeling I’m having now when I realize the unattainability of them for me. To write a book – I would sit down to write a book and what I would always feel was the inadequacy of any particular book I might write to fulfill this requirement. I took it as my own inadequacy (which it might have been to some extent, but that’s not the point,) but in the important way it was the inadequacy of any book, any writing, to do what I had wanted the book and the writing to do and to be. To confer this magic specialness upon me and upon reality itself. If I wrote beautifully, then what? I became beautiful? Perhaps, but not in this shimmering way I had hoped for?

I could write a book at any time I sat down to write the book. It might have gotten published, too, perhaps. (Meaning it’s in the realm of possibility though not a likelihood.) But I also had this sense of the misguidedness of what I was trying to do (not the misguidedness of seeking perfection, though in part that; I think more the whole idea of trying to assign to myself a worthiness through taking on this or that activity- let’s call it the pursuit of excellence…As if, through pursuit of excellence I would have value…This too is not untrue;) Is it the pursuit of love through the pursuit of excellence? Did I feel how there was nothing I could write which would have a lovely excellence? If it did have a lovely excellence, I think I would note how it was by chance alone that it had a lovely excellence, and this “chance alone” quality would invalidate the effort and the effect.

I would have to be excellent in order to become excellent. Drew Carey would have to be a great comedian in order to learn to become a great comedian by reading library books. I want to earn what I want to become, but maybe that’s where the impossibility inflicts me…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is too little philosophy here
and too many psychological musings ..

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

It's not a good post. I mean to clean it up a little bit. Thanks, though, for even bothering to comment.

Do you think it would be possible to become funny by reading how-to-be funny books if you weren't already funny?

My thoughts are very weak here, but what expressing them in this poor way might be helping me to do is differentiate becomings. Is learning (education) a becoming? Does rationality( as this highly ambiguous word was more or less used during the 18th century Enlightenment) activate becomings or something else? I don't know whether, in this inchoate stage I'm in right now, these questions have meaning ( Or, on the other hand, maybe they are banal,)but the aim is still to try to evaluate what happened at the time of the Enlightenment.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that is the way most people become funny.


2:06 PM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

I think you have to be totally desperate to be REALLY funny. Think of Belushi as the weather forecaster. He must have been out of his gourd to come up with that routine. It was wonderful.

5:14 PM  

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