I can't wait to read the new Knopf book of interviews with Woody Allen, filmmaker, musician, writer, and covert philanthropist (he swears people to secrecy).
Reading is good.
Talking to Woody is sublime. (I once interviewed him for a half-hour and treasure the transcript.)
I know less and less as time goes by, but I think I'd rather sit at a dinner party with Woody Allen than anybody.
(And come to think of it I eschew dinner parties in no small part because I've never been trapped with anyone remotely like Woody Allen.)
The most professionally amusing person I can recall sitting with is Marvin Hamlish. And believe me, to keep myself from daydreaming, I ate too much tomato salad and got the burps.
I remember he looked at me too much and talked too much -- but never both at the same time.
I don't even want to think about the time Charles Grodin trapped me on a gray couch during a cold January at Warner Brothers and told me his ideas for movies.
Back to Woody Allen.
I love to research but it would take years to prepare my brain for an hour of chewing the (monounsaturated) fat with Woody.
I doubt if Ben Franklin was expert at so many things -- and the playing field was a lot smaller in 18th century Philadelphia. (I'm from Philadelphia and trust me it's still smaller.)
Of course I might step up by listening to New Orleans jazz. And Mozart's Jupiter symphony. And I'd study photographs of Hemingway's granddaughter Mariel from when she was a winsome young adult.
I'd scarf Prozac to watch the recent documentary on Ingmar Bergman. I'd restore my will to live by playing the DVD of Smiles Of A Summer Night over and over.
I'd underline my S.J. Perelman books.
I watch Marx Brothers' movies anyway -- so no problem there.
I'd avoid watching Woody's movies for at least a month in advance of the dinner party -- because awe would keep me home under bedcovers.
Still laughing at Woody after all these years.
Here's where I break a basic law: never never try to quote Woody Allen. Insert the tiniest article ("a" or "the") and pffft word rhythms vanish as do mysterious laugh triggers.
Nonetheless I will boldly edit Woody's line: "comedy is about timing and maybe lighting."
Here's my version "comedy is about timing and maybe lighting and -- most important -- sensibility".
Furthermore I recently read a remark by Emma Thompson that explains something about Woody Allen's powers.
Thompson is confident that for women laughter employs the same muscles as orgasm.