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Ed Wynn Advocates Clean Humor and "Philosophy of a Fool" . . . Giggles Way to Peace in "Hooray for What?"

By Charles N. Pollak ii

Ed Wynn, the Perfect Fool, isn't so dumb. "Do you want my definition of a hero?" he asked. "Well, a war hero is a man who gets a piece of gold on his chest for a piece of lead in his pants," he chertled.

And that's the way Ed Wynn is. He'll say some of his funniest lines in his most hysterical manner, yet he'll be thinking serious thought all the while, "Hooray For What?" his new show, now playing at the Colonial, is crammed full of delicious gags. Nevertheless, every funny line is an effective jab against war. Ed, as Chuckles, the native inventor of strange gases is always wondering what it's all about. "I hear they found a Spanish soldier in the Spanish army," he shricks. "This antuggling must be stopped!"

Likes Harvard Atmosphere

Ed likes Harvard. He says it has an atmosphere of culture that makes you just want to learn things. He jokes about it, too, for when, in his play, he invents a new mustard gas, he declares that he's going to send it to Cambridge to be approved by Frankfurter. In another of his lines he says, "You know, the dogs in my home town are so high class that the dog-catchers have to be Harvard men!"

Asked whether college men have any future on the stage, Ed said yes. College men have a certain culture and "savior faire" that is difficult to replace by experience. If the theatre is to survive, Ed thinke, college men and women must take it up as a profession.

Prefers Clean Humer

Of course the stage is Ed's preference as a dramatic medium. And comedians are his favorite type of actors; comedy is the highest form of acting, so he says, for it's much harder to make an audience laugh than to make it cry or to thrill it. About the cleanliness of humor. Ed was serious, and leaned forward intently as he stated his views. "There's no achievement in making an audience laugh with a dirty or risque joke, because that joke depends merely upon its vulgar inferences. The true comedian, in my humble opinion, is a man who can make a gathering of people laugh with clean jokes, even if old ones, securing his laugh merely by his method of projecting his cleverness over the footlight."

Philosophy of a Fool

Ed Wynn thinks that philosophy could be taught better with humor. He's been working on a series of articles which he hopes to combine into a book called "The Philosophy of a Fool." In it, he wants to make philosophy easier to take by flavoring it with humor. He said, as an example, "Once somebody asked me why I was so generous with my money. I answered that I've no desire to be the richest man in the cemetery."

Concerning young folks with swelled heads, Ed's philosophy says, "Oh, they'll just have larger hats to pass around when they get older." He defines a bachelor as a man who never makes the same mistake once.

Ed is proud of a lot of things. He's proud of his son Keenan, who is now playing with the "Room Service" company. He's proud of Mrs. Wynn who used to be "Miss America." He's proud of his comfortable cruiser, the "Sea-wynn." In a week "Hooray for What?" will go to New York, and everyone is working under strain including Ed.

He was asked who was his favorite actor. "Ed Wynn," came the prompt reply. And next to him? "My son, Keenan." Who was his favorite after his son? "Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne." Another favorite is Philadelphia. In his show, Ed invents a "brotherly love" gas. He wants to use it on everyone because . . . "then you'll all be like the people in Philadelphia!"

Writes Own Lines

Unlike most comedians today, Ed Wynn writes a lot of his own lines. As a "student and analyzer" of humor he has developed his giggle, his high voice, his lisp. The show puts Ed's type of humor in effective contrast with the serious undercurrent of anti-war sentiment. On the one hand, in one act, a score of dazzling chorines dance gracefully with their backs always to the audience. They wear sweeping, transparent costumes. The music plays on, the dance becomes more graceful, the rhythm and movement speed up; finally the climax of the dance is reached and suddenly all the girls face the audience. They all are wearing ugly goggle-eyed gas-masks.

On the other hand is Ed Wynn. He complains bitterly about marriage. "You know," he howls, "once a girl proposed to me in a garage, and I couldn't back out!

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