by Michael Townsend Smith, book review by Vere McCarty

   Before we start, I would like to opine that being named Michael Smith is funny.  Some people think it is not, but Michael thinks it is.  The Townsend fits in nicely, like a wagon road between home and work.  Maybe your name is funny too.  I know mine is.  The book is funny even before you start to read it.  To begin with, it starts on page one.  Starting on page seven can also be funny.  You see, I am already under the spell of “How to Be Funny”.

   Smith, an active octogenarian, does not shy away from including himself in what can be funny.

Self is an image.

What you think other people see is not what you see.

Old people trying to go fast are funny.

Old people swimming are funny.

Old people all by themselves are sometimes sad.

Everyone is sometimes sad.          


   I was recently transfixed by Smith’s piano as he played a Debussy sonata.

Funny the way music frees the mind to move.

One part listens, another part dances, another part thinks.

Time tangibly expands.

The present breathes.

Anything is possible.                            

Imagination is the first appearance of reality.

Everything begins as a kind of dream.   

   There is a stop-making-sense quality in these pages.  Any line can go in any direction.

You would like a suit covered in flowers.

Sex is another story.                             

Nothing funny stays the same.

Everything changes, sometimes too soon, sometimes not soon enough.                         

  Funny of course means different things.

Writing is funny.

Funny-ha ha or funny peculiar.             

Emotions are funny.

You pretend not to have emotions or that they don’t matter, give way to them in moments of extremity or try to control them and not fall apart, wonder what you are supposed to be feeling, misunderstand other people’s emotions, misrepresent your own… 

Funny how raking up the big wet walnut leaves on a chilly bright December afternoon last year you thought this might be the last time, and then it came around again and here you are…                      

   Uninhibited writing is especially funny.

Wake up the sex brain.

Stop thinking about everything else.

Make sure you still can.

Then you can think again.                       

   Well, exactly.  But what is the point of seeing the world from all these perspectives?

Harmony is the point, always changing, so satisfying when it resolves.

Anticipation is the point.

Attention is the real you.

Otherwise you are walking around in a fog.

Something funny may happen.            

Michael Smith, playwright, director, lighting designer, &c., lived in KC, NY, RI, Taos and Sta. Barbara before settling in Silverton 15 years ago. His daily poems can be found at The eclectic output of Fast Books can be viewed at

Vere McCarty has acted in two of Smith’s plays.