I got a paper-cut on my finger three days ago at work, and it’s been hurting me ever since.
I don’t know if Oscar — or you — can see that cut, but it’s reminding me of this definition of the difference between tragedy and comedy, from Mel Brooks as The 2000 Year Old Man:
Tragedy is when I get a paper-cut on my finger. It hurts, I’ll run around, I’ll cry, and I’ll go to the hospital.
Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.
Even though I can’t find that particular tragedy/comedy clip right now, that’s no tragedy, since there’s lots more comedy where that came from :
You can find Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner performing the amazing comedy of The 2000 Year Old Man on YouTube and — I hope — many other places. It would be a tragedy if those jewels of improvisational comedy ever disappear.
Sometimes, I find it hard to decide what’s tragic and what’s comic, in my life. Sometimes, I laugh to keep from crying or find it all so funny, I cry.
Am I alone in this tragicomedy?
Whatever your thoughts about that or anything else in this post, it wouldn’t be a tragedy if you leave them in a comment, you know.
Here are some photos I took last night, when I was thinking about tragedy and comedy at our local supermarket.
I am hoping that nobody’s so tragically alone that they need a talking mouse like that, just to hear the words, “I like you.”
Here’s a tragedy for me (which may be comical to you):
My most favorite Skinny Cow dessert has tragically disappeared from the freezer section of my supermarket. I fear the yummy and low calorie chocolate mousse ganache cones I love will never, ever return.
If my thoughts turn tragic about that loss or about anything else (like the upcoming surgery for my unusual heart), I’ll just remember this:
Yes, I have survived disco, so I’ll probably survive a whole lot more.
There’s a specific personal tragedy I’d like to transform here, before I end this post. Last week, a doctor I met for the first time said things I found negative, frightening, and tragically hope-diminishing. As I’ve oft written in this blog, negative words and thoughts can tragically push out the positive.
In the here and now, I resolve to turn that tragedy into comedy.
Well, as I’ve found in individual and group psychotherapy, it’s possible to reduce the power of toxic people by changing your thoughts about them. For example, I could picture that cardiologist as a clown or as a standup comedian, delivering a routine (rather than delivering dire predictions about my health).
Also, I could turn that personal tragedy into comedy here, with some jokes about doctors:
“Doctor, you have to help me out!” “Certainly, which way did you come in?”
“Doctor, you’ve taken out my tonsils, my adenoids, my gall bladder, and my appendix, but I still don’t feel well.” “That’s enough out of you!”
“Doctor, my leg hurts! What can I do?” “Limp.”
“Doctor, I’ve hurt my arm in several places.” “Don’t go there any more.”
What’s the difference between God and a doctor?
God doesn’t think He’s a doctor.
As that last joke reminds me, that doomsday doctor I saw last week is not God. No human being, doctor or otherwise, is psychic about the future. We all have to wait and see what really happens, with all of us.
Maybe I’ll run into this doctor years from now, still looking as good as I do now, and give him some sort of comic gesture.
What do you think that gesture should be?
When you have about 25 minutes for some great comedy, watch this episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show for a perfect suggestion:
(Note: that episode is no longer available on YouTube, perhaps because of the tragedy of Mary Tyler Moore’s death. The gesture, in “The Critic” episode, was a pie in the face.)
Well! I have to go to the hospital now, not because of my paper-cut or any other tragedy, but because I need to get to work.
Here’s what it looks like outside, right now:
Is that a tragedy or a comedy? It might depend on how close it is, to you.
Tragically sincere thanks to Mel Brooks, to Carl Reiner, to the wonderful writers and actors from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, to people who live a thousand years or less, to good doctors, to bunnies of all colors, to skinny cows, and to you — of course! — for sharing my comedies and tragedies, here and now.