We all have unique laughs, but few are distinctive. Fewer yet bely the true nature of the human being issuing them.
British insult comedian Jimmy Carr has one such laugh, a tri-tone ‘dah dah DUH’, rising on the third expulsion. It has a bell-like quality, ringing, embodying the deft touch that Don Rickles had of insulting while loving; something Carr has mastered. It lets you know that despite him having just said something shocking and horrid, he is laughing with, never at, reassuring the target ‘all is well’.
Ricky Gervais is another who deftly threads much the same needle, he has hosted awards shows whose ultra-famous attendees who are barbed by his insightful but deeply cutting jokes. Gervais’s four-part laugh borders on maniacal by its end, letting the audience know it’s all in good fun, but at the same time underscoring the fact that he’s not entirely kidding.
But the laugh at hand, the one that is irrevocably burned into my conscience is of my dearly departed friend and colleague, J.D. Falk. His sister Alisa Dramé posted a reminder today on social media, making note it’s been a decade. Ten years since we’d not heard his gentle ‘hee hee’. His was a typification of his shy yet confident manner, an evaluation of the humour laid before him. When it came it was a considered opinion of what was funny; when JD laughed something truly was worthy.
I’d removed the anniversary from my calendar a while back because, well, I carry those I love and who have left in my heart, I don’t need a specific day to remember them, I do it often. Also true was that it was painful to recall the end of that terrible year, when that emperor of all maladies slowly drained him. But specifiably today, it seems apt.
Today, in the final throes of a global existential crises, the reverberations thereof still strong, when I would have so loved to have had him as a sounding-board to help guide and temper my own reactions to what has been a half-decade of tumult, and one has to admit, a great source of frustration and comedic material in equal portions. The Jews of Auschwitz laughed on their ways to the gas chambers, and so too, did we two Jews laugh at his cancer and undeniable impending death. What can I say? He did look good having dropped a few pounds. Hee hee. When all else is gone, you are left with the absurdity of it all.
JD Falk was an Internet pioneer, ten years past we honoured him at CAUCE.org which he helped found, we honoured him at M3AAWG.org which he helped found and whose annual innovator award rightly bears his name. The world truly was less with his passing.
He will never be forgotten by those who knew him, and now, hopefully, known a little better by some of you not so fortunate to do so.