Response to my Critics by @dwaghalter


Editor’s Note: David Waghalter responds to comments and letters to the editor regarding his 15,000-word post on the History of Comedy:

I APPRECIATE Robert Worth’s objection to my contention that in the evolution of humor, a line can be drawn from 16th-century Commedia dell’Arte directly to modern-day Kicking a Guy in the Nuts. Specifically, he rejects the notion that ball-kneeing transcends base physical comedy and ultimately evokes satirical archetypes employed throughout the comedy timeline. As Dr. Worth does not detail his qualifications in the field of art history in general, Italian theater in particular, or genital mutilation in any respect, we will have to agree to disagree. But he is wrong and dangerously ignorant.

I applaud Charles Stone’s enhancement of my theory of the Man with his Pants around his Ankles as a comic motif used across eras; indeed, Dudes Dressed Like Chicks is another humorous mainstay that can be traced through many time periods and multiple cultures. However, it is slightly less humorous when encountered on, say, the Disney Channel (as is everything else), or on Hollywood Boulevard at 1:38 AM (according to the police report).

I would like to thank Jessica Reilly for her words of praise, but I must object to her statement that “laughter is the best medicine,” an idea I have never embraced. If you have an upper-respiratory tract bacterial infection, for example, by all means laugh all you want. But please do start a course of antibiotics as soon as possible as well. Also, I would be remiss if I did not point out that there is no real part of the human skeletal system known as the “funny bone.” This misnomer most likely stems from the similarity of the name of the upper-arm bone, Humerus, to the word “humorous.” In any case, if you want to make a room full of grade-school children giggle, you can go with “coccyx.” And for the record, I myself find “intermediate phalanges” to be pretty hilarious.

It is interesting that Joseph Anderson felt the need to point out that my citation of the first instance of bathroom humor pre-dates the emergence of actual bathrooms. Of course, I used “bathroom” as a euphemism for “scatological,” which is itself a euphemism for “poopy.” And any fool knows that poopy humor is as old as mankind itself (I am using “mankind” as a euphemism for “humankind” and “fool” as a euphemism for “idiot”). On a related note, I am puzzled by Rosetta Wilcox’s assertion that the crude beginnings of Long-form Improvisation are rooted in the dawn of the Holocene Epoch. Unless by “crude beginnings” she means that the hallmark of early Improv was not “Yes, and,” but rather, “Beat your fellow player’s head with a rock until dead.”

Mitch Rosen feels that I mentioned my Twitter username, @dwaghalter, a “gratuitous” amount of times in a “blatant and desperate effort to amass more followers by exploiting his presence on this website.” Clearly Mr. Rosen did not grasp that three of my five paragraphs describing Twitter’s impact on comedy were devoted to the process that I, @dwaghalter, followed in order to choose the handle @dwaghalter and that I in no way expected readers to search Twitter for @dwaghalter or to go directly to and click “Follow.” Any suggestions that I was trying to promote @dwaghalter is therefore specious.

Finally, Andrea Washington asks directly whether she should pre-boil lasagna noodles or just layer them in raw. While I believe that Ms. Washington is referring to the wrong article and indeed to the wrong website, I feel I should respond: regular noodles should be fine raw as long as the bottom of the pan holds enough sauce; whole wheat noodles should be pre-boiled, but only to al dente softness.

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