Before we go one step further, my references here to “Franny” will always be to my wife. Even if Franny doesn’t like it, she’s going to get quoted now and then. That comes with being married to me.
Franny recently finished bound galleys of our friend Daniel Smith’s wonderful book, Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, soon forthcoming from Simon and Schuster. Over dinner, neatly sipping a Stoli-on-the-rocks, she mused, “Dan’s book made me see something. Being a comic requires an exceptional, exquisitely sensitive sense of self-esteem.”
I stared at her. But when we talked, I got it. Her point is that the clown’s self-esteem must be exquistely sensitive. Not necessarily healthy. Or sound. Or radiant and unstoppable. Just sensitive—-just alive, aware.
I see it. Clowns are invented from the comic’s sense of ways he or she might be ludicrous. They stand on the platform of their creator’s private self-judgement.
When I think of the funniest figures in my personal repertoire, it’s true of them all, from Mark Twain to Jackie Gleason to Carole Burnett to Evelyn Waugh to Iris Owens…
To name a few.