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Imminent Collapse A Funny Thing Didn...t Happen to Me ...

By Bill Andrews
CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR

Some of my fans (Nori) might have noticed that it’s been a while since my last column. I can only apologize and shake my head metaphorically. Well, actually, it’s partly my professors’ fault. In fact, now that I think about it, it’s entirely their fault.

Not, as you might be thinking, because they’ve kept me too busy to write. No, my classes are hellish and all, but really they’re not that bad this term — I’ve had time to write two reviews in the Arts section in this column’s absence, after all. But, even though I have some free time and I’m not pulling my hair out like so many of my compatriots here @mit.edu, my professors have made it pretty much impossible to read anything for fun. And that’s a serious issue, because it makes me far too serious.

Y’see, people are like sponges (by ‘people,’ I mean me). I go along, soaking up whatever I’m reading, then spurt it all out when I write, so to speak. For instance, after reading a British novel or two, I have a slight British accent in my head, and might include a “torch” or “queen” or a “pull the other one, it’s got bells on” or something in the next story I write. It’s a little like “You are what you eat,” only it’d be “You write what you read.”

Since my profs have been keeping me too busy for leisure reading for months, the closest I come to fun reading is for 21L.458, The Bible (a class I affectionately refer to as Bible Study). Alas, you can’t really sit there readin’ the Bible and chuckling to yourself. Especially when your fianc e’s Catholic, and she’s got a mean left hook. So that’s left me with only seriously-minded thoughts; that might cut it in Arts, but it’s not really what we’re about in Campus Life.

The reason, therefore, for a lack of my columns of late is a lack of mirth in my life. I mean, who’d want to read a serious little column about average consumer intelligence, the undeniable passage of time, or some other equally boring and carefully considered column? The rest of this newspaper, and life in general, can be pretty boring and depressing; why should I add to that?

Of course, all this had been going on subconsciously, and I didn’t really know why I wasn’t being particularly funny anymore. Then one day I had an epiphany, my first one outside of poetry class. A bunch of us were goofing around, trying to punt despite tooling calling out to us, listening to LAMP (http://lamp.mit.edu) when someone put Robin Williams on. We were transfixed, mesmerized by his hypnotic hilarity. It was the first on-purposely funny thing we’d witnessed in a long time, and it opened my eyes.

Immediately I started writing this column in my head. Which, by the by, explains why even today’s column isn’t particularly uproarious, since I only had that one Robin Williams shot of comedy in my system. But now that I know I’ll have to work extra-hard to keep some comedy in my system, both for my own good, and for those who are genuinely too busy to do anything fun. I know it’s possible — in the past I’d keep up my private reading, sometimes just to spite the professors (“Ha, you think just by assigning me whole books two essays and four movies I’ll stop reading Stephen King? Shows what you know, profs!”).

So the next time you find yourself frazzled, living from pset to pset, it’s time to get some comedy in your life. Watch a decent sitcom, listen to a stand-up comic, or pick up a newspaper and turn to the comics (unless it’s the Times, which is too educational). Maybe just call up a friend and shoot the breeze, tell a few jokes.

After all, they say a mind is a terrible thing to waste, what with course 9 kids going hungry. They say love is a matter of chemistry, and sex a matter of physics. They say math is a game of rules and no goals, and philosophy’s a game of goals and no rules. They say ocean engineering … oh, wait. Well, clearly, life@mit.edu can be funny; you just have to be willing to listen.