The Greek Theatre Masks

In the 1960’s,most Irish Catholic families posted 2 famous pictures on the walls of their home, the Pope, and John F. Kennedy. So it seemed a bit strange when my mother proudly displayed 2 plaques that are steeped in Greek theatrical history; the image of Comedy and Tragedy. I came to discover that it was no coincidence, There is remarkable evidence that one cannot exist without the other.greek

The funniest people I knew in my life were also the ones that had suffered the most tragic circumstances. It is widely understood that humor can be a way of compensating for pain and sorrow. Most professional comedians have spoken to the issue. At the end of the day, we were one of the most entertaining, genuinely funny groups of individuals ever assembled by fate into a family. It was easier, and much more acceptable, to laugh than it was to cry. Even when our world seemed to be falling apart, there was humor.

In the aftermath of our mom’s manic tropical getaway, we went through her luggage and laughed till we cried over the random objects she had purchased/stolen from the hotel as souvenirs of her trip. Some still had fresh glue on the back of the ceramic, she had obviously taken some items right off the wall. During this same episode, I had taken my younger siblings to see a Burt Reynolds/Dom De Luise movie called “The End” which was a comedy set in a psychiatric hospital. Ouch. I made sure they got to visit their mom later that day in the actual facility, to dispel any really negative images from my unfortunate choice of a movie.

There will be stories I hope to remember here that reflect great sorrow. I only hope that I can inject some of that heart-felt humor into the memories.

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This entry was posted in Art, Childhood, Depression, Family, Humor, Mental Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Greek Theatre Masks

  1. writerinsoul says:

    Van, we’ve talked about this humor business and I tend to think you’re right about the funniest people having the bad circumstances. Maybe it starts as a coping thing but evolves into something else? Twain has that great line about the secret source of humor being pain. I know I use humor as an equalizer too, to deflate overstuffed shirts and overstuffed egos. I can totally relate to you and your siblings laughing-till-crying over the stuff your mother collected. I snorted over “she had obviously taken some items right off the wall.” Wonderful deadpan.

    • She was a trip. We had watched her fall apart once before..this time, we were older and handled it better, even with humor. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have survived it. This was her farewell mania, she got her cancer diagnosis 6 months later.

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