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In the 1920s, comedian Robert Benchley commented that there are two categories of people in the world: people who divide people into categories and people who don’t. He went on to remark that, “Both classes are extremely unpleasant to meet socially, leaving practically no one in the world whom one cares very much to know.”
Groucho Marx may have been thinking the same thing when he famously quipped that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.
In all seriousness, it may be high time that we took these humorists and their absurdist observations a bit more seriously.
My first serious exposure to absurdism was back in my sophomore year at the University of California, when my English professor introduced our class to playwright Edward Albee. I was immediately fascinated by The Zoo Story, although I wasn’t quite worldly enough to appreciate the subtext of class warfare and social malaise.
Time would solve that problem. But I was still able to recognize the hidden threads of realism sewn together in a garment of tragicomic incongruity.