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Revue offers more than just a laugh


Last updated 2/19/2020 at 4:14pm | View PDF

Back in the olden days, when I taught literature, I often began with a broad discussion of what "comedy" and "tragedy" mean. Broadly speaking, classical comedy is a structure; the stories may begin with mayhem, but they end by bringing people together. Song and dance are the most frequent-used symbols of this social harmony.

Comedy, strictly speaking, is not necessarily funny; it can be humorous, but that's not what "makes" a comedy a comedy. When we laugh at something on a stage, part of our laughter is based on the recognition of ourselves in a situation. In other words, we relate to it. And this circles back to the comic structure: relationship-building is the backbone of comedy.

Am I making too much of a joke? Perhaps. Maybe comedy just "is what it is," a phrase that has always rankled me because it seems rather a cop-out. Of course, things are what they are. The trick is to go one step further and ask if something is MORE than what it is.

A story is always a story. A painting is always a painting. They become art, however, when they point to the possibility of something beyond themselves. To be highfalutin, they gain a meaning that transcends the literal.

"Hamilton," for example, is more than a history lesson, though, indubitably, it is one. "The Grapes of Wrath" is more than a road trip. Can they be enjoyed as such? Of course. They become greater, more moving and more enjoyable when they point to something beyond themselves.

Which brings me to this year's Community Revue. What is it that makes this event more than an entertaining fundraiser for The Community House? First off, it is a comedy - in both the classical and the modern understanding of the word. There are jokes and funny situations, certainly. But at its heart, the revue exists to bring people together - with song and dance. It begins with mayhem and concludes with harmony.

When the revue pokes fun at Hinsdaleans and current events, it is for the sake of finding that which we share, collectively, in these chronically divisive times. We recognize ourselves in the mirror. We are silly, we are frequently preposterous and we are all in this town together. It is our shared experience as a community.

The revue is song and dance and laughter and a dizzying amount of talent upon the stage. Do we get a little too much mileage from occasionally blue humor? You betcha. But we are far more than that, and we hope you will come celebrate our village with us.

- Susan O'Byrne

of Hinsdale is a

contributing columnist.


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