My never-ending search for laughs | Mann Overboard

Bill Mann
Posted 1/4/23

I’m looking for a few funny men — or women— in the new year.  

Gray skies? Let’s lighten up.

I’m always looking for funny people.

I’ve found …

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My never-ending search for laughs | Mann Overboard


I’m looking for a few funny men — or women— in the new year. 

Gray skies? Let’s lighten up.

I’m always looking for funny people.

I’ve found plenty of pleasant people here, many good-natured and even humorous ones. 

But laugh-out-funny? Those are the hardest to find. So far, no luck. 

These are among the people who head into stand-up comedy, or go to Hollywood, as I did, to pursue a comedy-writing career. 

Tina Fey, who IS funny, once memorably said: 

“If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.” 

I’m, um, among the latter.

I once wrote a comedy show for Canada’s Global TV network in Montreal along with a brilliant Canadian humorist, Sean Kelly, who was, at the time, editor of the very funny National Lampoon. 

But that Canadian gig was like playing in the minors. I was encouraged by late Canadian talent Alan Thicke to go to Hollywood to write comedy. So I dragged my wife and infant son all the way from Montreal out to L.A. Big mistake. 

I quickly learned what comic Steve Kravitz meant when he said memorably, “If you hold a dirty ashtray up to your ear, you can hear L.A.” (Kravitz lives in L.A. That’s the price you must pay for showbiz success). 

Shortly thereafter, I moved from L.A. to Northern California and became a TV critic for the Oakland Tribune. When it was suggested that the paper get someone to cover the booming San Francisco comedy scene, I volunteered; I love being around talented comedians. I chatted a few times backstage with Robin Williams when I was a judge at the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. 

Here’s an odd, paradoxical, thing about comedians: You seldom see them laugh. When someone says something they find humorous, comics will often just say, “Now, THAT’S funny…” 

I’m a big believer in humor for getting us past all the rough spots in life. So when I arrived here with the thousands of jokes I know, I started looking for people who were laugh-out-loud funny. I’m still searching. 

I have a neighbor who’s quite amusing. He makes me smile, not laugh. Close, no cigar. Smiling is great, laughing is even better. 

So, what do I laugh at? A few things, like Monty Python and “Veep” reruns. 

The Pythons were the rarest of entertainment-business combinations — intellectual, and brilliantly funny.

I had the rare chance to meet them around 1972 when they first toured Canada and spent a couple of days at a radio station I worked at. It was the start of their first Canadian tour (they played in, but never toured, the U.S.). 

I met their plane when they landed in Montreal. Eric Idle spied skyscrapers downtown, then an architectural rarity in London, and announced, “Ahhh … This must be so the capitalists can be closer to God.” Good opening line.

It’s been a rough past two years. Many of us have experienced the health declines that accompany Social Security checks, and we’ve also been beset by the pandemic. We could all use a laugh, and not just infrequently. 

And whether it’s movies, TV shows, comic strips, movies, or books, I always prioritize humor. 

Those of us who know life’s a tragedy, after all, think it’s a joke. 

Finally, newspaper-humor dept.: My annual awards for Funniest Comic Strips go to Stefan Pastis’ “Pearls Before Swine,” and the Sunday “Doonesbury.” 

Funny is highly subjective, of course, and even though I don’t find many things funny, I cherish the few that are. 

So, go for the funny wherever you find it. And if you know anyone who makes you laugh here, would it kill you to shoot me their email address or phone? 

And a belated Happy Festivus to one and all! Now, for the Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength…

(PT humorist Bill Mann is laughing with you, not AT you. Send me the funny at