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I am a big fan of stand-up comedy. I have enormous respect for the men and women—whether professionals or amateurs—who get up on stage and do their best to make us laugh. And though I like many comedians, my all-time favourite is, and will always be, Steve Martin.
I discovered Steve in the ’70s when I was a teenager. His album, A Wild and Crazy Guy, was a revelation for me. I would eventually get all of his comedy albums on vinyl—Let’s Get Small, Comedy is Not Pretty! and The Steve Martin Brothers—and spent hours listening to them. (I kick myself that I gave them away when we moved to Europe.)
Steve left stand-up comedy in the ’80s after 18 years. He has had a successful film career, published several books, written plays and even won a Grammy Award for his outstanding banjo performances the legendary Earl Scruggs. I could go on, but for those of you who are not familiar with Steve, you get the idea. He’s a talented guy.
I recently finished reading Steve’s memoir, Born Standing Up. A terrific read (even if I am biased). Jerry Seinfeld, another comedian whom I think is great, called it “one of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written”. Continue reading
“L’humour est le plus court chemin d’un homme à un autre.”
(“Humour is the shortest road from one person to another.”)
— Georges Wolinski
The legendary Alexander the Great built an empire that, at its height, stretched from Ancient Greece to India. One of his strongest and most formidable enemies was the Persian Empire of Darius III. In 334 BC, Alexander led a fleet of Greek and Macedonian ships across the Dardanelles Straits and into Asia Minor. When he reached the shore, Alexander ordered his men to burn the ships. He told his men, “We will either return home in Persian ships or we will die here.”
Centuries later, in 1519, the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortéz, would employ the same strategy when he landed on the shores of (what is today) Mexico to embark on his campaign against the Aztecs. Similar tales are told of the Vikings and other warriors throughout the ages.
By burning his ships, Alexander hoped to galvanize and motivate his troops. They knew that they had to fight in order to survive. There was no other way. To borrow from Ed Harris’s line in Apollo 13, failure was not an option. And so Alexander’s men were fully committed to the campaign ahead.
I have been pondering these historical events over the previous months as they have come to take on increased significance in my own life. Continue reading