Some say it was Woody Allen, others attribute it to Mark Twain, but I suspect it was William Shakespeare who said the basic formula for comedy is Tragedy plus Time. Since he wrote both tragedies and comedies, and seems to have said everything else in the English language, who am I to quibble.
Knowing the simple-sounding formula, however, doesn't make comedy any easier. Being funny is still a bit like corralling smoke, making a crushed beer can round again or trying to explain to your girlfriend that you were honestly trying to be both sincere and complimentary when you told her she really looked better carrying a few extra pounds.
Like all simple equations, Tr + Te = C is not a universal. For example, the wit who walked into guest relations the day after the Quicksilver accident, lo those many years ago, and quipped, "Hey, I hear you guys are having a lift sale... 10 per cent off." was definitely not being funny. Come to think of it, I'm still not certain that one's funny. Maybe in another decade. Then again, maybe not. Some things simply defy humour. I'm not sure, for example, the Epoch of Harper will ever be considered a laugh riot despite its tragic arc.
By contrast, the Victoria sitcom, Shit Christy Says, is almost always hilarious. Whether she's trying to be serious — oh c'mon, is she ever serious? — or not, she can't seem to help herself. It's as though John Cleese is writing her speeches. "But seriously, folks, it is better to be a MILF than a cougar." Perhaps it is, especially when you digress in the middle of a stump speech to tell the audience a microphone that won't stay upright in its holder reminds you, unsympathetically, of your ex-husband. Ba-da-boom! Never a wrong time for limp penis jokes.
I mean, how funny was the episode, Last One Out's a Drowned Rat, when most of the Liberal caucus announced they weren't going to run again in this election. "I want to spend more time with my family." "I was never planning to run again." "It's time to pursue other opportunities." So many ways to say, "We're going to get creamed and I don't want to be part of this train wreck."
Those remaining, the hopeful, the otherwise unemployable, the builders-for-the-future, have ordered their campaign literature and signs, none of which make even passing reference to Ms. Clark. She will be a ghost in this campaign, stumping for her own seat — by no means assured — and being notable by her absence from everyone else's campaign, with the possible exception of Adrian Dix whose fortunes are boosted every time she appears in public.
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