The Comedian Considers

posted Oct 27, 2015

Nothing is funnier than unhappiness,
wrote Samuel Beckett, that bucket of ugly laughter.
And Kierkegaard once said that a person has
to suffer to know what's comic. Is that what I'm after,
a setup? Bad life lived badly so that when
the punchline comes it comes as a punch to the gut?
Can I work these cruelties and the accidents
into the perfect joke? And if so, so what?
I tell myself the funniest man in the world
lives in some village surrounded by bamboo
and wasps and hungry soldiers. When he's dead,
no one outside his valley will have heard
his laugh or the only English words he knew:
I'm sorry and That's what your mama said.

Patrick Ryan Frank is the author of The Opposite of People (Four Way Books, 2015) and How the Losers Love What's Lost (Four Way Books, 2015), which won the 2010 Intro Prize for Poetry. A recent Fulbright Fellow to Iceland, he currently lives and teaches in Austin, Texas. For more information, go to