“The Comedian As Letter N” on MAGRA RADIO

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Paul Vangelisit’s MAGRA RADIO recorded the first version of “The Comedian as Letter N” about a year and a half ago. I expanded the piece slightly after it was first broadcast, and Paul Vangelisti, the producer, decided that we should rerecord it. Here is the link to the revised monologue.


This particular piece is different from anything else I’ve written in the past half-century. I mention this because I appear to be part of a “very small number” of people who are “actually creative” in old age. Unfortunately, this number is so minuscule as to not warrant any meaningful effort by the federal government to sustain our lives past a certain age. While mandatory euthanasia is not yet on the drawing boards, the drumbeat to categorize the elderly as disposable is gaining momentum within the inner circle of Biden’s first presidential appointments. Given that Biden is in his late 70s, it seems rather ironic that someone such as Ezekiel Emanuel now has a position of authority that he can use to demonize those who are on the wrong side of 75.

“There are not that many people who continue to be active and engaged and actually creative past 75. It’s a very small number. . . . . If you look at really smart people, there aren’t that many writing brand-new books after 75, and really developing new areas where they are leading thinkers. They tend to be re-tilling familiar areas that they’ve worked on for a long time.”
— Ezekiel Emanuel, one of Biden’s top advisors on COVID

Now I’ll grant that I’m not one of the “really smart people” who is developing an intriguing domain of knowledge in which I am a “leading thinker.” However, at age 73, I expect to continue working full-time and contribute to the well-being of other people who are in need of my financial support. If, in supporting myself and others, I have enough time left over to write poems and monologues that are different from what I have written before, have I not earned the right to enough medical attention to enable me to enjoy a year or two of creative effort unimpeded by my job at the very end of my life? There are projects I will not be able to finish unless I have at least one year, if not two years, of time to give to their completion.

Emanuel has said that he would feel he had lived a “complete life” by 75. Only someone who has benfited from an obnoxious amount of privilege could say that. The “character” who speaks in “The Comedian as Letter N” is at the other end of the spectrum and knows full well the meaning of an incomplete life. I hope some of the jokes make you smile, at least briefly.

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