Playwriting

Funny Makes Money

I recently watched a special where George Carlin posthumously received the Mark Twain award. I have a deep love for the writing of Mark Twain. I less recently watched Hal Halbrook performed an evening of Mark Twain’s writing and the timeliness, the universality, the hilarity of his writing just floored me.

Mark Twain once said, ‘the difference between the right word, and the almost right word is the difference between the lighting bug, and the lightning.’ I could marry someone who says things like that. (Sorry Craig. Oh relax. It’s ok. He would understand. Besides, in case you didn’t know, Mark Twain isn’t really alive anymore.)

I’m watching this George Carlin special, on PBS (I have many happy, long filled childhood memories of PBS. WNED Buffalo. Tonawanda is burning. Years and years of Doctor Who. Pledge drives. Goldie, who still works there) and I’m loving the special. George Carlin’s use and deconstruction of words and concepts in his height is just brilliant. The use and re-use and build up and breakdown use of words is my mantra and my mission in life. And the honest love from the other comedians makes me cry. No one is pandering. Even the asses are sincere.

George Carlin, when he started out, was the cute, clever, happy go lucky comedian. In a interview, later in life, which was shown in the special he said he did that type of comedy because he wanted reward. One is rewarded for being cute, clever, happy go lucky. Sooner than later he was less than satisfied with this reaction and went down a completely different, darker, much more rewarding path.

A lot of the plays I write are cute, clever, happy go lucky. And if I’m being completely honest, they make me the most money. Funny is money. It shouldn’t be a surprise to me. When I rent movies, I never, never want to rent something serious. Never. I want light, I want stupid, I want happy go lucky. So why should I be surprised? Funny is money. I have much less funny plays, issue plays, darker plays that make squat. Squat is a dangerous situation in this economy. Squat does not pay the bills. Squat does not pay the mortgage.

Ok. Here lies before me the double edged sword. My mortgage? Or Squat? Beautiful squat, but squat none the less. What would you do?

I’m about to release a play called Censorbleep. It’s beautiful. OK beautiful is a strange word. Different is a good word. Dark is a good word. Challenging is a good word. It’s dark. It’s issue oriented. It’s controversial. It makes adults squirm because it says some unhappy truths. It will not make me half as much money as Wait Wait Bo Bait. Or Anne-Arky. Censorbleep will probably never make enough for a mortgage payment. It’s my soul, but you know the bank doesn’t really care about my soul.

Ok, I’m distracted right now because on the special Lewis Black is talking about the F word. And about how, Oh my God, if I say the F word the world will stop as we know it. The fabric of life will be torn asunder. Millions will commit suicide. Um, really. Adults. Administrator adults. Hear me now. The F word is nothing. It means nothing. It means something because you make it something.

So where were we? Oh yes. Happy go lucky, mortgage payment, or something else. Which do I choose? Which side of the sword? Ah ha, I forgot to mention option number three. For I am the luckiest girl in the world. I can do both. I can write for the mortgage payment and I can write for my soul. Maybe for the next little while I’ll have to focus on the funny. Cause times are tough and we all just want something to make us forget the dark. And there’ s nothing wrong with that.

But George Carlin will always be on my mind. I will always remember that my reward for writing shouldn’t come from the happy go lucky. My reward should always come from my soul.

“No one has ever gone to jail for screaming, ‘Topography…..'” George Carlin

About the author

Lindsay Price