“Laughs Last is a rumination on family, legacy, talent, and the fluidity of time, a poignant dream of adulthood coming in fits and starts to our protagonist Damon Blazer. With a quick mind and an instinct to flee (preferably before getting punched, but not before getting in a punchline), Blazer comes from a family whose laughs never mean just one thing. He struggles to glean what lessons he can from his brutish and detached brother, his grieving but understanding mother, and his aloof but proud father, but it’s the inheritance of his grandfather’s lessons that truly form the backbone of Blazer’s biography.”
Dylan Brody is a humorist who appears regularly on radio (including XM/Sirius) and comedy clubs around the country. He has written plays, novels, and jokes for other comedians as well as being a contributor to the Huffington Post.
Damon, you have to decide, every time, whether you’re willing to face the consequences when you tell a joke. Every time. A good joke, any good joke, it tells the truth. They’re very powerful and they can hurt people and they can change the world.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this quote encapsulates one of the themes that runs throughout Laughs Last. This was one of the lessons the protagonist, Damon Blazer, learned from his grandfather, who was a comedian, too. His grandfather was also Damon’s mentor and often the only member of his family who understood him.
The story jumps back and forth in time, which has the potential of being confusing, but isn’t. The logic in this convoluted timeline is explained by the narrator as a lesson Damon’s father had tried to teach him finally sinking in, that “it is only possible to know the meaning of events after some time has passed, when they can be looked back on in context.” The disjointed time line arranges events in a way that helps them make sense.
As advertised, Laughs Last is humorous. However, there is much more to the story than that, with plenty of food for thought about family and taking the unconventional path in life. A great read. If this story is any indication, that cliché about there being a thin line between comedy and tragedy is right on the money.
Some adult language.
Added for Reprise Review: Laughs Last was a nominee in the Humor category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 12, 2013.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words