It makes sense that screenwriter and playwright Neil Simon
, who pretty much defined American humor on stage, screen and TV for several decades until his death 2018 at the age of 91, knew how to turn humiliation, heartache, opposites-attract relationships, adultery, marital tensions, likable losers, glib nostalgia and modern insecurities into red, white and blue hilarity. What else would you expect from a Jewish boy from the Bronx who was born on the Fourth of July in 1927, right before the Great Depression?
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With parents whose marriage he would kindly describe as being “tempestuous,” Doc, as he was called, sought out books by such humorists as Mark Twain
, Robert Benchley
, George S. Kaufman
and S.J. Perelman
in order to bury his own troubles while picking up hints on how to use words to incite laughter. His work often paired humor with an undercurrent of pathos,