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Following up on my pal Denis Munro from the previous post .. he sent a reply once to a letter I mailed him in my early twenties. “Good to see your sardonic wit still intact,” he wrote. “Guard it always.” It was sound advice from an older friend that I perhaps failed to fully appreciate. I showed the letter to another older friend, John C Spears, who read the ‘guard it always‘ bit and added “as you would the Crown Jewels ..” There was something there beyond Spears’s general blowhardiness, but I wondered why a seemingly innate trait would require such delicate attention. In recent years I had occasion to visit a shrink in New York City, which is akin to visiting a tanning salon in Alaska. At our third meeting, in the middle of my reciting what I thought was an honest self-evaluation, he interrupted to observe “Rick, you must be aware that you possess an acerbic sense of humor ..?” I was, but what I didn’t realize was that anything I’d expressed had indicated as much. Apparently Denis and Spears needn’t have worried.

It’s a fine line to walk, this balance between being healthily skeptical and an overt pain in the ass. Lately, I’ve been watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s great HBO program. It’s over the top for comedic effect but at its core are some genuinely human observations and assertions. There’s a panel discussion included in the DVD extras and Jeff Garlin, who plays David’s manager on the show, notes that there is a sizable group of people who simply “don’t get it.” This is essential for this form of humor to survive. If everybody got it there would be nothing propelling it forward and it would become, to use a Woody Allen analogy, like a dead shark.

More interesting to me is why Curb works despite David’s character possessing an objectionable, neurotically narcissistic personality. I believe it’s because he has energy, and being at odds with the world around you minus the energy equals an unappealing, depressive mess. Anger fuels this energy. If David’s part is an amplified and exaggerated version of himself, it would appear necessary to sustain this anger even after conquering one’s lofty comedic and monetary ambitions. Naturally, there are pitfalls inherent to subscribing to this confrontational camp. The way I see it, you inevitably fall somewhere on the Larry David – Leo Buscaglia spectrum. Neither is preferable and I’m not sure which better explains the fine line between laughter and tears, but David makes me laugh harder.

Which brings me to the weather we’re having. Outside of a precious few seasonably warm days, the New York spring has merely been a milder extension of winter. I mention this with apprehension, knowing that we’ll now likely jump right in to a pronounced, extended,  and suffocatingly hot and humid summer. Once, while passing through a group congregating in the customer service area of our company and discussing outside temperatures, I pompously proclaimed “weather talk!” It met with mild disdain from most, but got me closer to the new receptionist who found it refreshing. There is no more potent encouragement for one guarding his sardonic wit. And besides, I kind of like the rain.

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