Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fresh Air: Laughs

So, I was short on audiobooks, and this caught my eye on the library shelf, so I grabbed it. It is a collection of interviews that Terri Gross conducted with comedians. Comedy process is always interesting to me. But here's the weird part -- for me, this ended up being a journey into the nature of memory. When I read the list of comedians interviewed, I thought, "Hey, these sound interesting -- some familiar, some I've never heard of." But when I started listening to the first track, I think it was Al Franken, I realized I'd heard it before. "That's okay", I figured, I haven't heard the rest. But as each track came on, I realized I had heard them before. "Well, maybe," I rationalized, "I only heard the first disk before, and I returned it early for some reason." But, track by track, through the whole thing, each interview became familiar to me ONLY when I heard it. I would look at a name on the box, like Phyllis Diller, or Drew Carey, and tried to recall whether I'd heard it, and if I remembered anything -- and I couldn't. I remembered nothing. But when I started listening to each, I recalled that, oh, yes, I had heard it before. And as I listened, I could not only remember details about what was coming next in the track, but where I was when listening to the track last time, in fact. So, listening to this was a strange experience for me -- and a humbling one -- I am not at all sure I understand the difference between remembering and forgetting.

This strange experience aside, the interviews are excellent, and give great insight to the variety of methods of comedic process.

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