“I work with Mel Brooks’s definitions of comedy. He says, ‘Tragedy is when I have a hangnail. Comedy is when you fall off a cliff and die.’ He says, ‘Comedy is tragedy plus time.’ I like to dramatize contradictions that cannot be resolved. Human beings desire to be in two places at the same time: here and somewhere familiar we have never seen before. I am on guard against writing stories that portray a hero and stories that portray a victim or a victim-hero—the most common form of the memoir. These are stories, in essence, that flatter the narrator. My narrators need to be vulnerable and limited. Comedy is about limits. Tragedy is about transcendence. I do not believe in transcendence. I am pretty sure a story has shaken loose the human’s needs to look good and show off when the story generates laughter.”
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