The Art of Writing Funny

Art Buchwald seemed to me to have the ideal job. Be smart and funny and write relatively short and the world beats a path to your commentary.

Dave Barry and Buchwald and PJ O'Rourke and a handful of others had/have the gift of making us laugh, sometimes until our sides ache, by saying things the rest of us also know, or think we've always known, but just can't put into really funny words day in and out, on deadline.

I saw Buchwald on TV occasionally, with that unforgettable voice that always seemed to have a chuckle in it no matter what he was saying and the face that I would confuse with Alan Sherman–both of the big, black-frame glasses fashion statements–and in real life only once.

He was ringmaster at an open house/benefit at the home of Bobby Kennedy, which was open to all mammer of rabble which is why I was allowed in. Plus I was only a kid, so they didn't yet know why they would not want me around. It's sometimes a little unsettling to picture Charles Manson playing in a sandbox and getting his cheeks pinched by relatives cooing over his future as a statesman, maybe even president.

But I digress. Buchwald was dressed in a red coat and white paints, combining ringmaster with hound master, or whatever they call that guy who starts the Fox chase. It was a costume party, so it was probably around Halloween. Nice house, by the way, Hickory Hill I think is its name.

Now here is where the story gets fuzzy. I tell it, and retell it, that Buchwald the exciting purpos of getting a peck on the cheek from Caroline Kennedy, who was dressed in a cat costume as I recall.

What I can say with assurance is that Buchwald was there and I was there and Kennedy was in a costume. But I will always claim the kiss, regardless of what facts may be cast as apsersions on my reverie.

OK, that was my Buchwald story, except to say my mother would either read his Thanksgiving Day column to me every Thanksgiving day–Kilometres De Boutish–or call me to remind me to read it.

I always did and always laughed.

By John Eggerton