July 05, 2012

Maniacal Laughter, or why I wrote "33 Ways To Kill My Husband"

Years ago I saw an interview with one of my artistic heroes, the great filmmaker John Carpenter, where he was asked what did he think of the "Saw" series.  "I think they're tremendously funny," he replied with a completely straight face.

It's hard to explain what makes me laugh.

When I think of my favorite comedies, movies like "The Naked Gun" and "Monty Python and The Holy Grail" immediately leap to mind.  I love "Airplane" and "Top Secret" and "Real Genius" and "Revenge of the Nerds" and "There's Something About Mary" and "Dumb and Dumber" and "Zoolander".

On the stage, I love Christopher Durang and on the page I bow at the feet of Douglas Adams.

I could go on and on about the stories that everyone else thinks are funny that I also think are funny.

But then there are the other stories.

Like Mary Harron and Christian Bale's version of "American Psycho".

Like the Paul Verhoeven trifecta: "RoboCop", "Total Recall", and "Starship Troopers".

Or "Re-Animator" or "Creepshow II" or parts of "John Carpenter's The Thing" or even "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

And let's not even get into the local news.

There's absurdity and irony and excess all around us every day.   While most people would shake their heads and turn their eyes away, I honestly cannot help but laugh.  It's almost involuntary.  The bigger the crazy, the more over the top, the louder I laugh.  And the more serious the people in these situations take their absurdity, the funnier it is.

What's even funnier is that most people are so hyper-aware of the circumstances, but so incredibly unaware of the very irony they create.

I'm reminded of a joke from Bill Maher about the proctologist who complains that he has to look at asses all day.

But even as I write these things, I feel like they could be coming out of Heath Ledger's mouth in "The Dark Knight".

Maybe, in the end, the biggest joke is on me, after all.

Wouldn't that be funny?

I guess my own lack of self-awareness is part of the genesis of my protagonist in "33 Ways To Kill My Husband ".  But the honest truth is I owe a big debt on this story to my fiance.  I just hope she doesn't take it to heart.  :-)