Norman Prentiss

The Comedy Director Talks of Suicide

Already dead inside
I planned a drive to the lake
to pitch myself in. But first
I tidied up the room,
closed the hotel window,
when — at that very instant —
a body fell right past
and slammed onto the sidewalk.
And so my depression was cured.

A true story, structured
the same as a joke. Take Two.
What if I’d stepped outside
five minutes sooner, so
the guy would land on me —
do I break his fall?
or does he kill us both?
Either way, it’s good
for a laugh, a belly flop.
Take Three (the Rule of Three):
I’ll go for realism,
let the body bleed
in bright technicolor.
Without comedy, I might
stress there’s always someone
with better cause, jumping
from a higher floor,
to beat you to the pavement.

Except that I am done
with serious scenes. My epic
about the discovery
of anesthesia —
a metaphor for my films
that numbed the public’s pain —
the studio cut it, released it
mangled past repair.
It was, of course, a flop.