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The Laugh Supper by Leonard Ryzman

The Laugh Supper

by Leonard Ryzman

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This clever book should be made into a play or movie. Either of those would serve the humorous quips, quotes, and warps of those smashingly well. The cast of characters is wonderful: Leonardo da Vinci, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, Groucho Marx, Mae West, Dorothy Parker, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon, along with an unnamed and curious host who obliges them when they materialize at his door looking for a place to have a conversation and some vittles.

These historical figures from different time periods and countries, known for their wit and wisdom, discuss a wide range of topics. Every page is full of funny lines. Imagine these people in person in a play or movie or in your own house trading ideas and verbal jabs.

For me, there weren't laugh out loud moments, but I could see that there would be almost constant ones were this book to go "live". The book is cleverly constructed with each person speaking as they did in life and twisting some known phrases to suit the subject at hand. At the end, da Vinci attempts to explain time travel in scientific terms. That bit is interesting, to say the least.

The book might be 3-4 stars, but I gave the author credit for a novel idea, lots of work to assemble the book and study the characters and history, and the very real potential it has to be an excellent "live" work. The book can be read in a day. I had house guests and didn't find much time to read. ( )
  Rascalstar | Jan 21, 2017 |
A successful dinner party depends on a good host, good food, good discussion, and a good mix of guests. THE LAUGH SUPPER supplies them all as the unnamed host finds Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, Groucho Marx, Mae West, Leonardo da Vinci, Dorothy Parker, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lennon at his door looking for a private location to gather and spend the evening together. During that time, the host realized “Anything I knew about ‘time’ up until then not only went out the window, it took the whole window with it.”
The guests share their opinions on subjects ranging from television, art, free expression, transportation, the battle of the sexes, diets, exercise, time travel, flowers/weeds, black holes and a good deal more with wit, wisdom, knowledge and understanding. There is also a section pointing out coincidences between Lincoln and Kennedy ending with both having sons who later lived at 3104 N Street in Washington, DC.
As the characters were introduced, Leonard Ryzman noted Leonardo da Vinci’s “imagination was so vivid, his thirst for knowledge so powerful, he conceived of inventions that came into being only in the 20th century.” Later they question whether Leonardo, who was very much a Renaissance man proficient in science, music, and painting, would have painted the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper had he been born 500 years later.
The actual story began on page 21, following the introductions. The first of my many laugh out loud moments came on page 24 with a quip by Groucho. After a short discussion with Groucho, he realized “If I were simply interested in having the last say, it would have needed to be with his brother, Harpo.”
They cover a wide range of topics:
The battle of the sexes:
Parker: “For every woman with a curve, there are several men with angles.”
Television and movies:
Marx: “People are watching a lot of thought-provoking TV shows today. The thought it provokes is: ‘Why am I watching this show?”
Kennedy: “In a typical home, the TV set is better adjusted than the children....”
Lennon refers to a show as Survivoyeur.”
West: “Sometimes a movie hero is the one who sits through it.”
People’s attitudes and behavior:
Parker: “Perhaps the penalty of success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you.” “Televangelists more interested in the fleece than the flock.” “It’s strange that people who didn’t even know their next-door neighbor were curious about what was on the other side of the moon.”
Marx: What’s wrong with the world isn’t the people trying to get something for nothing. It’s those who are succeeding.’ “Far too often a speech is like a wheel. The longer the spoke, the greater the tire.”
Emerson: “Cigarettes are killers that travel in packs.”
Parker: “The trouble with people who have broken a habit is that they often have the pieces mounted and framed.”
Education, invention, and changing times:
Emerson: “The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.”
“Many ideas certainly grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.”
Kennedy: “If George Gershwin were composing today, he might have needed to call his celebrated opus, Rap City n Blue.”
Da Vinci talks about his painting process, purpose and thoughts on restoration as well as what he could do now with his knowledge and resources now available: “But as for taking back things I did not discover, I would not want to deprive subsequent generations of the pleasure of searching for and finding solutions.” The guests also prove that the most well known phrase in The Gettysburg Address, “The government of the people, by the people, and for the people” was not original.
Da Vinci: ”But a life well spent is long.”
Lincoln: “Life is a process of learning how to live.”
Emerson, “...and we are always getting ready to live but never living.” War:
Ryzman: Leonardo da Vinci “Wasn’t committed to the philosophy of the pros or cons. His primary focus was in establishing what was creatively possible....He couldn’t resist the opportunity to invent more efficient weapons purely to meet the challenge of overcoming existing flaws. It didn’t actually make him pro-war.” That reminded me of Tom Lehrer’s ditty:: Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down. That’s not my department says Wernher von Braun.” The guests also note that John Lennon’s “Hey Jude” was on flip side of ”Revolution.”
King: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and unguided men....It’s is not the difference between us that is the difficulty; it is the indifference.”
Lincoln: “The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.”
Puns and one-liners are mixed in with more serious discussion. One section offers cross humor
Lincoln: If we cross a carrier pigeon with a woodpecker, we could have a bird that knocks on the door before delivering a message.”
West: “I’d cross an owl with an oyster to get pearls of wisdom.”
Often I try a new product because I sampled it first. This review is a sample. I appreciated the unlikely mix of personalities and topics. Some of the quotes were authentic. Others could have been as the guests generally stayed in character. The discussion flowed naturally.
My copy of this book via Goodreads includes a signed inscription from the author: “May you always remember the happy times and always make happy times to remember.” There are two happy faces inside his signature.
THE LAUGH SUPPER delivers happiness. ( )
  Judiex | Feb 26, 2014 |
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