Published:  12:21 AM, 16 June 2019

Why wit matters


A woman without a man, says Gloria Steinem, is like a fish without a bicycle. That sounds rather strange, even bizarre, until you realise the wit in that statement. And wit is something we have been doing without, much to our surprise, for quite a while now. When was the last time you heard someone among the glamorous and the glitzy come up with a wisecrack? There is Ronald Reagan, with his 'Honey, I forgot to duck' comment to his wife moments after the assassination attempt on him in March 1981.

And while you do, here is a work that promises to do wonders, almost in the manner of an aphrodisiac, to the funny side in you. Think of Ann Landers' meaningful statement: 'The poor wish to be rich, the rich wish to be happy, the single wish to be married, and the married wish to be dead.' Smiling, or chuckling away? And then, of course, there is the vast field of politics from where you can pick some of the choicest of nuggets when looking for humour to throw around.

It was Voltaire who once told people that 'the ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination.' Don't take that seriously, but sure, you can laugh a little. You can even belittle democracy a bit, through quoting H.L. Mencken: 'Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.'

Ralph Abernathy once induced guffaws with his barb on the Watergate president: 'Richard Nixon told us he was going to take crime off the streets. He did. He took it into the White House.'And literary humour? You only have to listen to G.B. Shaw. And this is what he has to say: 'I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.'

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