In Samuel Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape, the only character on stage is a lonely 69-year-old man who tape-records his thoughts on each of his birthdays. He is listening to a recording from twenty years earlier where he is saying he is eating too many bananas and is definitely cutting them from his diet. As he is listening to this, he is eating a banana. (Being a Beckett play, of course we know there is far more to it. Everything is symbolic, the recording, the banana and Krapp’s name.)
Jean Shepherd mentions this on his program that I am listening to from 1968. The program engineer has found an old tape of his from 1959 and plays a section on the air. In it, Shep is commenting on the tacky novelty stores along 6th Avenue. At the end of the clip, Shep points out his observations are still entertaining nine year’s later. This, he suggests, is what separates humor from comedy. Humor is timeless.
He must be right. Here I am, listening to him after another 42 years have passed, and his humor is still fresh. I am finishing my lunch as I listen, and I realize I am eating a banana.
What would Beckett make of all this? I would rather not know.