PEN International Talk – 8

  1. Humorists know the best humor is character-driven

Bertie Wooster is pretending that he and Jeeves are chums (for the Communists at his table) – NOT master and servant. Bertie tries to get the kettle boiled for tea.

Bertie: “I don’t know what you’ve been doing to the cooker, Comrade Jeeves, but I don’t seem to be able to get the gas lit.”

Jeeves gets up and whispers to Bertie as he slinks by: “It’s electric, Sir.”

Plus, the funniest characters don’t realize they’re being funny. They are dead serious about what they do or say. Roy Blount Jr., again, talking about Charles Portis:

“His fiction is the funniest I know, but the last thing in the world his characters have in mind is putting themselves across as comical. They are taking on the world in earnest. … Lesser comic writers drag their characters onstage and shout, ‘Get a load of this guy!’ Portis’s characters just show up.”

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