This post appears in slightly different form on Helen Christie’s public Facebook page.
Dave Hill’s new book of essays, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, will be available on May 10, and he has released a list of locations where he’ll be holding book signings and readings. A link appears at the end of this post, and the list may be expanded later.
Much of Dave Hill’s humor focuses on existential absurdities. He observes the pointless, circular things people do. According to advance comments on his upcoming book, he also writes about moving forward in life.
The word “existentialism” intimidates most people, including people who think carefully. Consciously, those people may have no idea how much of it they’re exposed to, or how much they’re learning from it. They watch a drama/action film like Carlito’s Way (1993), and comment that Carlito was always ascending but never knew where he was going. They add that the film had no scenes showing Carlito at home, and they wonder if he had just come out of nowhere. It doesn’t dawn on them that they’ve watched an existential character study because they were always too afraid to read Sartre or Camus.
On to another example:
David Brenner’s humor was often based on existential absurdism. He joked about someone sitting on a newspaper on a subway train, and the passenger next to him asks, “Are you reading that paper?”
The passenger sitting on the paper says, “yes,” gets up, turns the page and sits back down on the paper.
Another Brenner classic described one of those quick muggings that a lot of us have been through. A man is bumped by a stranger, and all of a sudden his wallet is missing and the stranger is running. The man yells, “Hey! Come back here!”
Note: Most existential absurdism is not comical, although it rears its ugly head a lot in sophisticated humor.
Dave Hill does a little bit of shock jock humor on his WFMU show, but he’s way more sophisticated than the common shock jock. He doesn’t just say things off the top of his head to test boundaries with the FCC, even if some listeners assume he’s doing that. There’s always something happening with his humor, which is why he attracts a thinking audience.
Call back in twenty minutes.
If you get the “Call back in twenty minutes” joke, I feel your pain. I’ve been there, too. The bastards. At least Dave helps us laugh about it.
No need to say more.