Then said Almitra, Speak to us of the Comedy Ball.
And he raised his head and looked out over the crowd.
I have thrown the Comedy Ball to many among you, he said, and yet you have perceived it not. For many is the time the Comedy Ball has hit you square in the chest, only to bounce off and roll under a dry hydrangea, waiting. And there it lies to this day.
Just this afternoon I approached you as I watched you licking the bill of your baseball cap. I quipped, “Never have I seen a man actually eat his hat.”
And you replied, “Uh... no, I spilled coffee on it.”
To which I put forth the response, “Dude, I’ll give you a dollar if you need coffee that badly.”
And your eyes blinked, and they were vacant. The second comedy ball bounced off your chest, falling and rolling to join its brother orb underneath the hydrangea.
And you said, “No, I just want to get the coffee off.”
And I reflected to my bosom: if I toss another comedy ball, will the Rule of Three prevail? And I looked at your baseball cap and the way you were diligently licking its brim and rubbing it with your forefinger. And I gazed upon the two unnoticed and uncaught Comedy Balls lying disused beneath the dry hydrangea. And I altered my reflection, for my bosom told me, “This man recognizes the Comedy Ball not.”
And a great sigh issued from my lips as I produced my gym membership card and passed on to the locker room.
People of Orphalese, will you learn to see the Comedy Ball? I would be happy if even one among you would recognize when one comes sailing directly towards your forehead. I would delight even to hear a dim chuckle of recognition as you say, “That was a joke, right?” But to you they are but the ghosts of shadows, invisible, unfelt and unloved.
People of Orphalese, to see the Comedy Ball is to set your foot on the path of humor itself. For once you have seen the Comedy Ball, you may learn how to catch it. And once you have learned to catch the Comedy Ball, you may learn how to throw it back. And once you have learned to pitch your own Comedy Ball, you may learn the myriad ways one might spin each pitch.
For to volley the Comedy Ball is to dance with the ancients, a dance whose steps may be described but never predicted.
He lowered his eyes, and his gaze rested upon the waste of dry hydrangeas dotting the landscape, and the hundreds of moldering Comedy Balls lying beneath them. He shook his head sadly as the cries of the sea-birds wheeling overhead mixed with the lonely wind. He then raised his head once more and the winds carried his last words above their heads, out to sea:
But seriously, people of Orphalese, you’ve been a great audience. I’m here all week.