In Eugene Woodbury’s essay, , and in William’s last post they both talk about the importance of comedy. I agree with what they are saying but I am also sometimes disheartened at the selection of comedy available. There isn’t much out there, and what is isn’t actually comedy, it’s just silliness. However, one book, Benediction by Neal Chandler is Mormon comedy at its best.
Benediction is a collection of loosely related short stories that poke fun at the idiosyncrasies of Mormon culture. Set in a ward that could be your own, the comedy is built on the incongruities of pyramid-scheme-selling Relief Society sisters, Rocky preaching Sunday school teachers, parents with so many small children they have to head out to the garage to get some intimate time, and hapless single adults who find themselves feeling like the teenagers they so obviously aren’t.
Originally published in 1989, with many of the stories having previously appeared in Dialogue, Benediction is still funny–and relevant–twenty years later. That this book is apparently out of print is a shame. (Don’t worry. You can ILL it or buy it used on Amazon.) More than just slapstick and oneliners, which seem to be the purview of so many Mormon comedic films, Benediction is full of tightly knit witticisms that draw the reader closer and closer to the eccentric–and endearing–essence of Mormonism (which, of course, has nothing to do with the actual Church). Even the cover art makes you want to giggle. While there were a few moments where I wondered if the author was laughing at Mormons instead of with Mormons, I found myself wishing I was reading it aloud with others so we could all laugh together.