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The Greatest Joke Ever

"You know my favorite. It's your favorite too," my Bubbe said to me with the same rascally grin she had when she first told me our favorite joke. Though, it was now missing a few teeth, from when she said "fuck it" with her dentures, around when she moved in with parents for hospice care. Still, teeth-be-damned, she couldn't withhold that smirk. See: it's a dirty joke; it's a dark joke; it's a joke that over time has drifted onto the wrong side of political correctness; it's the greatest joke ever.

She first heard "the one about the dead nun" on one of the regional, elderly bus tours she took [...]

Laughing at a Funeral: Confronting Grief with Humor

I had my first good laugh only a day after my father-in-law died. Gary’s alcoholism had blown apart everything good around him, including his relationship with his son Jason, my husband. For years, things were toxic. It wasn’t until Gary died that relief washed over us and we cried tears of sadness for his loss. He once was a good dad. We could remember him that way still.

But back to the laugh. It was Jason’s thirty-first birthday. We scrambled to pack our bags. I raced outside to walk our dog Hans, in a hurry to get on the road to make it to Virginia. We have a dog whose anxiety [...]

What It's Like Getting Hired – and Fired – by 'SNL'

It was late summer, 1982, and I was driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I turned to her and said, “This must be what winning the lottery feels like.” We had just been asked to join the cast of Saturday Night Live along with Brad Hall (and Paul Barrosse, who would become a writer) and were on our way to our last performance of “The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee.”

The show was a collection of our best Practical Theatre sketches over a three-year period and it was a local hit that caught the attention of Tim Kazurinsky. Tim brought in Dick Ebersol and Bob Tischler who [...]