Steven Heller | Essays

Make ‘em Laugh!

Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
And you can charm the critics and have nothin' to eat
Just slip on a banana peel
The world's at your feet
Make 'em laugh
Make 'em laugh…

—Written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed (based on Cole Porter's "Be a Clown”).

What’s so funny about Covid-19? These days otherwise hilarious jokes and joke makers are not all that funny. Watching recent episodes of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” and the Bill Maher “Real Time” proves how difficult it is for even the most brilliant comedians to make us laugh during this Covid-19 shutdown. All the currently airing TV and cable late night shows are being broadcast from the hosts’ respective homes – the formats are different but their handicap is the same: No audience! Audience (even a laugh track) is a necessary part of the communal comedic experience. Laughter is infectious. You don’t need to hear more satire about President Trump — even this comedic stalwart is much more tragic than ever before. Nonetheless, in lieu of vaccines or effective Federal leadership, it is more essential to get daily doses of laughter than ever. Belly laughs would be great, but take whatever you can get, just don’t stop.

“Dying is easy,” said the actor Edmund Gwenn. “Comedy is hard.”

Rumor has it that once all the dark jokes that have virally filled our email boxes came from Wall Street brokers — that source has dried up (if it ever existed). However, just search the worldwide web long enough — don’t just wait for friends to share links with you – and you’ll find things that will make you laugh and will even inspire you to make others laugh. What with having plenty of time at home to do something creative, wit and humor should be in good supply. Now’s the time to make design that is really useful. Here is a brief guide to my favorites of the week:

One: The “Last ZOOM Super”

Two: A Challenge From the Getty Museum.

“We challenge you to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home.

1. Choose your favorite artwork.
2. Find three things laying around your house.
3. Recreate the artwork.

The results, for the most part, are to die for (I guess that’s not the best turn of a phrase).

Three: Pass The Salt

How do you make social distancing the object of wit. Ask the heirs of Rube Goldberg, Joseph’s Machines’ and Sprice Machines’ “Pass The Salt”; liberally sprinkle it on your funny bone because watching to the end is worth every second.

Four: New York Nico Presents: Do You have a NY Accent?

What can you do in your home that makes others laugh. Show off your talents:

Now go out there and be safe, healthy and funny!!!

Jobs | July 22