Tag Archives: comedy

Revealed! Book Club Choices for August. Three Terrific Books.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

  • one outstanding book about happiness or habits
  • one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit
  • one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

 

Shop at IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library!

For all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read most of them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.  Drumroll…

A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature:

Born Standing Up by Steven Martin

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.

Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.

What Are the Funniest Movies? 11 Suggestions to Get You Thinking.

I have a friend who’s going through a very rough patch, and I said to him, “You need to take short breaks from your worries. Why don’t you make an effort to watch funny movies? They’ll give you a little boost, when you’re feeling low. And taking good care of yourself will help you deal with this situation better.”

He agreed, but as we were talking about it, he said, “Maybe it’s because of everything I’m dealing with, but I can’t think of anything I want to see. The only funny movie I can think of is Caddyshack. And I’m not even a huge fan of Caddyshack.

So I want to make him a long list of funny movies, Some thoughtful, some goofy, some old, some new, so he has something for every mood. I’m sure this list could be much longer.

What movies have I overlooked — or never seen myself?

 

Watching funny movies or TV is a great way to get a quick mood boost. It’s true: laughter is good medicine.

It made me happier just to think about these movies! This list would make a great appendix to my book about happiness, The Happiness Project.

What movie can make you laugh, every time?

What Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele) Learned from Doing Stand-Up Comedy.

“One of the breakthrough moments [of doing stand-up comedy] for me was realizing that…you can take all the classes you want and learn and practice and get all the advice from other people, but it’s really like learning an instrument that has never existed until you were born. No one can tell you how to play that instrument.”

— Jordan Peele, “Key and Peele,” in Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

I think this is true of life, generally — about habits, and happiness, and many other things. We have to learn ourselves.

Story: Do What You Love, and Then Your Friends Hire You.

This week’s video story:  Do what you love, and then your friends hire you.

 

Perhaps I didn’t quite complete my thought on the video. When you do what you love, even in a non-job context, you make friends with other people who share your interests;  as they move forward in the world, they help you move forward. (Of course, it’s not always easy to cultivate your passions.)

In a related observation, my sister the sage once told me, “People succeed in groups.” Agree, disagree?

Have you found this to be true?

If you can’t see the video, click here.

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What I Learned About Myself from Steve Martin.

Last week, I read Steve Martin’s memoir of his time learning and doing stand-up comedy, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life. I loved it.

It’s a terrific example of one of my favorite kinds of books: someone coming into his or her vocation. I love reading about why people become interested in particular subjects or skills, and how they master them.

Just in the last year, I’ve read several outstanding books of this type, such as E. O. Wilson’s Naturalist, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One, Rosanne Cash’s Composed, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Eugene Delacroix’s Journal.

Do you have any suggestions? I just can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t matter if I’m interested in the underlying subject. I’m not much interested in music, for example, but I loved reading about the experiences of these musicians. And I’m definitely not much interested in ants.

Odd sidenote: you never know when you’re going to get an insight into yourself and your own experience. Steve Martin made a passing observation which very helpful to me. He writes:

“I never experienced the sensation [of knocking knees] again, but I wonder if I would have preferred it to the chilly pre-show anxiety that I sometimes felt later in my performing career. This mild but persistent adrenal rush beginning days before important performances kept the pounds off and, I swear, kept colds away.”

I’m no Steve Martin, of course, and I never feel the chill for days, but I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in myself. I’m always, always cold, but about an hour before I give a talk that has me feeling nervous, I can actually feel my body temperature drop, in the space of a single minute. It’s as if someone has turned down my thermostat. I now bring a shawl with me, so I can wrap up beforehand. For some reason, it’s helpful to realize that other people experience this, as well.

Reading Steve Martin’s memoir reminded me of one of my favorite quotations, from G. K. Chesterton: “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” Although Steve Martin’s comedy looks wild and crazy, it’s the product of a tremendous amount of serious thought, rehearsal, and experiment.