Part Six - "Conversations With?"
I began moving my thoughts toward memorable American humorists, and was immediately surrounded by large numbers; so, I commenced the process of elimination.
At this particular point in time, I find that I should have really enjoyed listening to and exchanging some issues, perhaps, (IF I could have summoned the courage to do so) with the likes of H. Allen Smith and Oscar Levant.
Smith wrote a truly funny book, titled "Low Man on a Totem-Pole," along with a great number of articles laced with his brand of humor (he was a fine journalist).
You may remember seeing a warm, humor -filled movie, titled "Rhubarb", which Smith wrote; a movie that became really well - liked during mid-century, and can be seen from time to time on
As for Oscar Levant, I have already written about him some time ago, pointing out his historical musical importance, having been a friend of George Gershwin and championing his music through many performances.
Levant was, in my view, one of the more brilliant personalities in the 2oth century, which included an encyclopedic array of information about his world and an acerbic, derisive sense of humor which is remembered about him veritably as much as his musical abilities.
His humor reminds me, at times, of the barbed humor of the great Irish writer Oscar Wilde, who mentioned in his "Picture of Dorian Gray" the widow whose "hair suddenly turned quite golden in grief upon the death of her husband."
One of Levant's great lines was "there is a thin line between genius and insanity - I erased that line."
And two of his books will tell you of his line of humor simply by your gazing at the titles: " A Smattering of Ignorance" and "Memoir(s) of an Amnesiac".
I have a photograph of Levant sitting on the same piano bench with the fabled pianist Vladimir Horowitz. This photograph was created by Levant, and shows Levant sitting on the very edge of the bench, commanding all of about two inches, while Horowitz commands about 90% of the bench - this way Levant shows the world who is the better pianist.
I would have really enjoyed conversations with these two!
Labels: two great humorists