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The Reading Pulls the Funny from the Words

The Diner is an old Saturday Night Live skit (1989-1990/Season 15/aired 21 April 1990) with the late Jan Hooks and Alec Baldwin. It is a bit of genius in the way the language does double-duty, pointing at meaning far beyond the sublimated exchanges. The characters and their inevitable conflict are showcased in the writer’s words (read the transcript here). But it’s the words exchanged between Hooks and Baldwin—words that seem almost physical—that move the skit forward.

[Click to play.]

[Click to play.]


Read the transcript. It does not come across as powerful as it does in the hands of Hooks, Baldwin and the rest of the cast.

But that holds for lots of things.

Words come to life when spoken or acted on by a human. If that seems too philosophical, consider how much copy you read that is lifeless because you cannot hear any human voice. This is why press-release quotes from CEOs sound so wooden. No human speaks that way. On the other hand, some books remain in our lives precisely because they capture the human voice so well. For me, the old poet-king and the gospel writer John portray the human voice so accurately that I return to them daily. Ian McEwan’s Atonement also did that for me recently.

What words will you act on in 2015?


Image Credit: SNL/Yahoo

Written by kirkistan

December 26, 2014 at 9:50 am

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