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Jim Walker: On Charlie Brown, pain, humor

Don't Take Me Seriously

Posted: October 28, 2011 10:45 a.m.
Updated: October 28, 2011 10:45 a.m.

At various times in my life, friends and family have dubbed me "Eeyore" or the "Tasmanian Devil" - both of which were quite appropriate appellations when given, as these cartoon characters represent the opposite extremes of my personality.

On the other hand, I, personally, have always felt a great empathy for the travails of Wile E. Coyote. Sure, he is reckless and incredibly short-sighted, but fate really seems to hold a grudge against him.

Similarly, back in the day, I was very emotionally invested in the Trix Rabbit's quest to finally get a taste of Trix - which he eventually did, thereby teaching a generation of us kids a valuable life lesson about perseverance.

You know, even if it regards theft.

However, of late, "Charlie Brown" is the nickname I am most often slapped with. And, you know what? I've decided to wear it proudly because Charlie Brown is cool.

Why is he cool? Because he suffers ...for us all.
And though many of you might see yourselves as Lucy, Linus, Schroder or even Snoopy or Pig-Pen, the reality is, we are all Charlie Brown, because we've all had the football sadistically pulled out from under us many times.

To quote Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown's creator, "Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers, because he's a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn't funny."

And therein lies the energy behind all comedy, my friends. Comedy is about suffering. It has a mean streak. Comedy is cruel.

To quote Plato: "Comedy has an element of malice, a kind of mental pain."

To quote another famous philosopher, Ron Howard: "Comedy always comes from pain or frustration."

So then, it is of little wonder that I find myself exploring our universal pain with my clumsy attempts at humor on these pages. It is a noble pursuit, my friends, and not a mere counting of the clouds, or a twisted indulgence on my part.

But let's go back to Charlie Brown.

Charlie brown has been described as a lovable loser, one dominated by his own insecurities and a permanent case of bad luck, and often taken advantage of by his peers.

Is he a sad sack?


A downer?


A truly negative person?

Surprisingly, no.

He is also described as possessing an endless determination and hope.

Charlie Brown is the eternal, stubborn optimist. Though he whines about his misfortunes, he always gets up and tries again. This, even when anyone with good sense has long since thrown in the towel.

A perfect example is Charlie standing on the pitcher's mound alone, refusing to let a torrential downpour interrupt his beloved baseball game.

You have to love a guy like that.

And, so, I will proudly wear his name. And I will endeavor to uphold his noble and comedic, cathartic purpose, which is to give life's inequities the squinty-eye wherever they crop up.

And if you still aren't sold on Chaz being a superstar, consider these Charlie Brown quotes:

On the down side:

* "This is my depressed stance. When you're depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you'll start to feel better. If you're going to get any joy out of being depressed, you've got to stand like this."

* "It always looks darkest just before it gets totally black."

* "I guess it's wrong always to be worrying about tomorrow. Maybe we should think about today ... No, that's giving up ... I'm still hoping that yesterday will get better."

* "You say we're put on this Earth to make others happy? ... What are the others put here for?"

* "I got a rock."

And on the eternal optimist side:

* "Dear Valentine, I love you - whoever you are."

* "That's the secret to life ... replace one worry with another."

* "There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters ... I could be their leader."

* "I've developed a new philosophy ... I only dread one day at a time."

You have to love him.

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