Andy Borowitz, editor of the New York Times bestselling anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers, is a pretty funny guy. Last night, he was joined by Sloane Crosley and David Rakoff CC ’86, two of the writers included in the collection, for an evening of reading and riffing in Miller Theatre. Pun Professional Clava Brodsky was there to report.
If brevity is the soul of wit, then Friedrich Nietzsche was one funny dude. And even if he wasn’t the 19th century’s best stand up comic, he certainly thought a lot about comedy. “Laughter,” he wrote, “means being schadenfroh, but with a good conscience.” To laugh, it seems, is to laugh besides yourself. To tell a joke, then, is to mock successfully. Comedy is the counterpunch to insults—not turning the other cheek. In short, it’s impossible to laugh after really reading Nietzsche.
Inconveniently, Columbia scheduled the presentation by comic writers Andy Borowitz, Sloane Crosley, and David Rakoff immediately after Bwog’s CC class. Bwog came prepared to perceive the speakers’ jabs masterfully swathed in the silky robes of humor. And yet, Borowitz disarmed all of our Nietzschean stockpiles on hand when he opened with a few quips at Columbia’s expense. “I was so honored that Columbia would invite me,” he began, “I told them I would do it for free. Good thing Columbia had the very same idea!” Borowitz then continued to recount a few anecdotes about his hometown, Shaker Heights, Ohio. It was established by the Shaker religious community, which, Borowitz said, is known for two things: furniture and “never having sex.” “Growing up, my experience mirrored theirs…though I didn’t make any furniture,” quoth Borowitz. When the conversation later turned to politics, Borowitz remarked that MSNBC is “Fox for vegans.” (Just yesterday, Borowitz wrote an article in which he claimed that FOX won the Pulitzer for Fiction.)
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