Last night the assembled multitude that is the Baslow family attended a lecture on comedy by the estimable Julie Halston presented at the T.Schreiber Studio. The lecture was entertaining, educational, and a very valuable experience for aspiring performers. Among the things we learned:
a) The Assyrians could very well have been a very funny people but we will never know. They left their pots for us to study but not their comedy;
b) The Greeks knew a lot about what makes things funny. Aristotle was a Greek. therefore, Aristotle knew a lot about what makes things funny;
c) Jews are funny. We know this by making a list of funny people and noting how many Jews are on the list;
d) Joan Crawford was funny (but not, as far as we can ascertain, Jewish) -- we are just not sure how intentionally funny she was;
e) Rosalind Russell exhibited a mastery of the kind of intelligent and intelligible fast talk that made Thirties comedy fly;
f) Intelligent and intelligible comic fast talk has almost disappeared from the face of the earth. One of the few consistent contemporary authors of such dialogue is Charles Busch.
g) Standup comedy is a talent apart. Masterful, multi-talented stars of Broadway have expressed to Julie their envy of her comedian's ability to get the kinds of laughs she gets;
h) You can't teach anyone to be funny but you can teach them to be funnier;
i) Julie Halston is smart about being funny.