Sunday, November 29, 2009

The School of Ted Kennedy Humor

In the film "When Harry Met Sally," one of my favorite jokes occurs when Billy Crystal's character tells Bruno Kirby's character (we miss you, Bruno Kirby) about the new woman he is dating. He illustrates her relative youth by saying, "When I asked her where she was when Kennedy was shot she said, 'Ted Kennedy was shot?'"

But ever since Ted Kennedy's death on August 25th of this year, I have been thinking about that joke differently. True, Senator Kennedy did not die because of gun violence. But the joke also worked because he was alive - and more than just alive, a stalwart, dependable in his endurance.

I think there should be a name for when events cause the fundamental humor behind a joke to transform overnight.

December? That's Far Away!

It's the 29th of November, but December, with its intimations of holidays and school breaks, might still seem like a long way off. What happens to our brains when contemplating calendar changes? Why does December sound farther away than Tuesday?