Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 221: Paul O’Sullivan

It’s been said of laughter that enough can never be said…

…of its virtues:

“Laughter gives us distance.  It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.” Bob Newhart

…of its dangers:

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Mark Twain

…of its power when it is shared:

“When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other.” Alan Alda

Those who create laughter for a living have one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Their timing has to be perfect. The joke’s not funny if it’s “too soon” or too late.

The mood has to be right.

The approach respectful and respectable but not.

And everybody in the audience, no matter their background, level of intelligence, or what kind of day they’ve had – has to get it at exactly the same time.

Brain surgery and getting a man to the moon don’t have that many variables.

Yet most who ply the comedy trade labor in semi-obscurity. Admired and respected by their peers – and maybe that guy at the back of the club who bursts out laughing at a line nobody else will get for the next five years.

Their great work is often done in a vacuum – or the back room of an Elk’s Lodge on a snowy Saturday night when everybody decided to stay home and watch the hockey game instead.

But they still go out and do the job. Because they know better than the rest of us how badly we need them.

My favorite description of comedy comes from Russian Comedian Yakov Smirnoff, who said, “Love and laughter can only happen when one person takes the time to think about what would cause the other person to feel good.”

And that for me sums up the Life and contribution to comedy of Paul O’Sullivan; a guy most Canadians outside of the world of comedy never had the pleasure of knowing.

This was a guy who took all those comedy variables, worked them just right and made a ton of people who never knew his name feel good. He loved what he did and his audience that much.

We lost Paul suddenly and tragically yesterday. But the legion of comics and lovers of laughter he touched will never forget him.

Here’s a taste.

Too soon?


Enjoy Your Sunday.

1 comment:

Mark W. said...

A wonderful and articulate tribute Jim ... Thank you