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Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2002 / 6 Tishrei 5763

Steve Young

Steve Young
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The humor will return. Just not yet | (September 12, 2001) My business is humor; comedy, satire. Television, magazine, newspapers. I create it. I write about others who create it. I wake up every morning, take a look at the newspaper, the Internet and the television to see what my kind of off-center, sometimes sick perspective, can do with it.

This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM PST and tried to do what I do every morning.

Only today my mind wasn't buzzing with how I can make things funny. For now it seems that part of me has been locked out. Shelved for a time.

It's happened before. When my father died, when the Kennedys and Martin Luther King were assassinated. When the Challenger went down. And now. Yesterday.

There's a hole in New York, a hole in Washington, a hole in America, in humanity's soul. That hole must be where humor once lived because I don't feel funny right now. I know the humor will return. It always has.

There will be no Jay Leno monologue tonight; no David Letterman; their shows canceled. Our country's funnymen now only men. They've lost the funny, at least for the moment. They'll be funny again. Just not yet. Not now.

Hollywood shut down production. Cameras lenses shut. Laptops closed. Pencils down. Entertainment, humor on hiatus. No Will, no Grace, no Dharma, no Greg.

No Mad TV. Only a mad world.

There seems no room for jokes about our president today. Only support. No wacky song parodies about the Congress and the Senate. Only America The Beautiful.

There's a tendency among comedians, among many of us, to find humor in most any situation. It's the built-in defense mechanism that keeps us from feeling our feelings. It also helps us climb out of the pit of despair where we cannot survive for long: after a funeral, back at the house where we're meant to sit and soothe the family; where we're meant to honor one's passing. Inevitably, the talk moves to those moments in the life of the deceased where humor lived. Breaking through the tears there is laughter. Laughter because we're human. Some of us are. And we will continue to be. Just not yet.

We have to bury our family members. We have to feel the feelings. We have to grieve.

The humor will return. The late night comics will return. The Internet will inevitably be filled with lists of sick jokes. We will hear more laughter. It's what we do. Just not yet. Not now.

For we've lost too many mortals and Angells. And for that, there'll be no Cheers today. We'll always have our humor. It's part of humanity's strength. It how G-d built us.

But right now, there's a hole. A hole in New York's skyline. A hole where the humor once lived. The hole where humor will live once again. Just not yet. Not now.

JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success". His website is Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young