Ba-da-bing, Ba-da-Boom

Saw Billy Crystal last night at the Boston Opera House in "700 Sundays," a hilarious performance about his life in New Jersey. Reviewers have mixed opinions, describing his material either as "coarse" or "earthy," "touching" or "schmalzty." To me, it was three hours of intimate, self-deprecatory storytelling from a master who was tutored by the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby. I especially enjoyed the "between-cultures" riff describing how his Jewish high school's basketball team played an exhibition game with the No. 2 high school team in the country. That team was all African-American, and included a 7'1" center named Lew Alcindor, who went on to become NBA superstar Kareem Abdul Jabbar. I was also reminded of the power of humor to open hearts and captivate an audience. It's too bad that reviewers, authors, and publishers of "literary fiction" don't recognize that most of us are desperate for a good laugh. When's the last time a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel made you guffaw out loud? Why do we think that "serious" literature can't make people giggle, chortle, or even crack a smile?