When comedy becomes ‘Anarchy’

With today’s onslaught of mediocre comedy coming from all corners of the world, it would be genuine luck to come across a comedic genius in his heyday. Our generation is lucky to have a legend like Woody Allen still alive and well and writing new films, and even penning a new book. It is great to think that such a legend is still putting his pen to the paper and writing slapstick comedy, social satire and parody in a collection of essays, like a 30-year break from the page meant nothing.

Allen’s writing has always been of a man who loves to take himself seriously in some ways, but still loves to come up with preposterous stories in order to laugh at himself. With “Mere Anarchy,” Allen follows up his critically acclaimed “Without Feathers,” which was initially released over 30 years ago.

In his new book, Allen continues his pattern of writing with great intelligence, yet when his stories are intricately dissected they are all totally outlandish. From the series of hostile letters between a camp owner and a disgruntled father to higher-frequency humans and fragrant pants, Allen comes up with ridiculous plotlines that truly make the reader laugh out loud.

That is what we’ve come to expect and love from Allen, because his brilliant references and immaculate vocabulary transform ridiculous context into utterly captivating stories.

In an excerpt from a chapter on a $12 million truffle, Allen writes, “Suddenly I got a cold chill. The only prior case I’d ever had involving a pricey edible was a relatively simple business concerning a Portobello mushroom. There had been charges of inappropriate behavior toward it by a political aspirant, but the allegations proved baseless.”

There is always an intellectual silliness in all of Allen’s comedy, and since his comedy films have been missing these last few years, it is nice to see it back on the page. Also, Allen continually uses the same trademark archetypes for characters, such as the East Coast neurotic Jew, a character he seems to feel very intimately for. On film Allen develops his characters and makes them the center of the film’s story, but in writing the situational comedy and the chaos surrounding it are the centerpiece of the essay.

“Mere Anarchy” is a brilliant collection of hilarious essays that could only come from the uproarious mind of Woody Allen, and we should all be happy that this literary genius is back on the bookshelves.

Dan Buyanovsky may be contacted at Danbuyanovsky@yahoo.com.