By: Jack Swift
With all the excitement and hype concerning the elections upcoming, perhaps we should take a break and share a few bits of information about comedians and humorists that have tickled our funny bone over the fabric of our lives. I had a question as to the difference between a comedian and a humorist as both strive to amuse. A dictionary definition of the word comedian is as follows: “A professional entertainer who uses any physical or verbal means to be amusing.” On the other hand, a humorist is defined as, “a person specializing in humor.” I guess then the difference is minimal. First I would like to mention a couple of what I consider to be among the very best humorists and comedians that I have known about during my sojourn on this planet. My all-time favorite comedian was Jack Benny, a radio and later television star in the comedy field. Benny honed his character as a bit too close with the dollar. Some of the skits in which he performed were hilarious. He never got older than 39. While in real life, Benny played the violin well; on the show he would often hit a sour note for it’s comedic effect. His comedic timing was impeccable. I remember that it took him more than a few seconds to answer a mugger’s ultimatum: “Your money of your life.” The humorist I picked is Garrison Keillor. Keillor each Saturday evening hosted a radio program called “A Prairie Home Companion.” The late Doc Watson, who folks will remember as a folk music icon, who, though blind was a virtual virtuoso on the guitar appeared on his show in Minneapolis and when I asked Doc later about his appearance there, he said it was a great experience and he really enjoyed working with Keillor. Keillor’s weekly monologue consisted of news of the fictional town he called Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. According to the monologue, Lake Wobegon was a place, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” On a personal note, I was in Walgreen Pharmacy in Boone, NC a few years ago and met and talked with Mr. Keillor who happened to be in the store at the time. He was doing an appearance at Holmes Convocation Center in Boone. I read recently that Keillor is stepping down from hosting the “A Prairie Home Companion.” Of course, there are other favorite comedians and humorists and perhaps I’ll deal with others in later columns.