The funnier you are, the more I think there’s a tragic undercurrent. … I think humor is one of the highest forms of tragedy there is. People talk about the serious novel and these sort of hallowed tones and how important it is, but I think a lot of humorous stuff — books by writers like Sam Lipsyte and even writers like Mordecai Richler in Canada, who is no longer with us — these are some of the most funny and tragic books I know because humor doesn’t work unless you’re making fun of something that keeps paper cutting you throughout your life, something that keeps hurting and hurting you; and that’s why parents, and relationships, and the political system are all such delicious targets.

—Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure, on the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast, talking about humor as tragedy. See more podcast picks.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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