Thursday, March 19, 2009

Found Comedy

I am profoundly grateful to Emily Yoffe's recent piece in Slate on narcissistic personality disorder, which is not only a ripping good read, but also drew my attention to perhaps the best two sentences to appear in the NYT in this or any other year:
[He] is unapologetically late to almost everything, and can treat employees with disdain, cursing and erupting in fury for failings as mundane as neglecting to have at hand at all times his preferred black Paul Mitchell hairbrush. He calls the brush “the football,” an allusion to the “nuclear football,” or the bomb codes never to be out of reach of a president.
This sentence describes the beloved ex-governor of Illinois, but it is also a miracle of concise comic character development, of a caliber I have not seen outside of Dickens, or early Fellini.

We are told earlier in the article that this information comes from former employees, and for all that Blagojevich is held up for ridicule, this passage also has the tang of long-suffered humiliations finally redressed, of teary conversations in supply closets finally coming to a much deserved resolution, of panicky dawn nightmares finally put to rest. In short, like all comedy, it contains a seed of great pain.

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