One of my favorite musicals of all time is A Funny Happened to Me on the Way to the Forum.
The work is a 1966 film (directed by Richard Lester, with Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford reprising their stage roles and adapted for the screen by Melvin Frank and Michael Pertwee) and a Broadway musical.
The original stage musical (music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart) was inspired by the great Roman farcical productions. Having lived in Rome and visited a number of awesome and ancient Roman theatres as well as being a lover or farce and satire, the musical and film hit home for me. I love them both.
An important element of both works and all works in this genre come to think of it, is that comedy, laughter and good times are perilously balanced with tragedy, sorrow, horror, loss, and grief. Just like life. Comedy and tragedy “work together” and often do when life captivates us with tall tales.
I know. We all want our world to be filled rainbows and unicorns. And we don’t want to be the central character whose life falls apart. It is tolerable when shit happens to someone else. Empathy may be hard yet it is not as hard as healing from life shit storms that destroy our life and dominate our narratives.
Who doesn’t want it to be all comedy?
Yet is that really practical?
Is it really smart to set THAT as your goal? No tragedy and all comedy. Sounds one-dimensional and boring. Sure it is safe yet is it what you really want?
Are we better off if we can expect and then manage both the peaks and valleys, ups and downs, lefts and rights of life? Are we not setting ourselves up for greater joy and happiness by anticipating that a little, or in some cases a monsoon, of rain will fall from time to time.
Imagine, if your life story is filled with you overcoming adversity! How exciting and thrilling that story is to live and live to tell about. But that is the key isn’t it? You have to live to tell about it.
For many of us, anxiety is generated when we consider the fact that we may not overcome adversity. We may fail. We may live our lives in pain and misery. And that my friends is where we all get stuck.
All great life stories have comedy and tragedy woven together in one narrative. Sure, as the musical and film suggest, comedy is always preferred, and it IS, yet tragedy is also expected just later in the tale to build excitement.
As you look at your life story is there not a blending of tragedy and comedy? Of course, there is. Yep, the fat lady has to sing and usually, she warms up during the tragedy elements while the hero is preparing to overcome adversity and save the day. Comedy and tragedy are needed in all narratives, including our life story
As you plan, write, and begin to produce your future stories, lead with comedy and good times then anticipate some form of tragedy even if it is unwanted?
So, prepare for both. Plan for both. Write about both. Live both. Celebrate both.