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Space for laughs
"In this future, 'Dude, testosterone = funny, estrogen = not' was a discredited theorem and the world recognized that a woman's face, body, hair and clothes were as inconsequential to good joke-telling as a man's."
-Lorna Landvik

by Lorna Landvik


Watching the movie "The Martian," I felt both awed and daunted by the scientific creativity of the astronaut stranded on Mars. What would I do if left alone on the Red Planet ... other than go berserk?

Of course, I'm not the typical NASA pick for a space mission. As a student, I never got excited about finding the area of a parallelogram, and wasn't interested enough in Newton's First Law of Motion to find out about the second.

I was, however, diligent and focused in my quest to make my classmates laugh.

Bingo. "The Martian" is set in the not-so-far-off future, an evolved time when a woman could assume not just the role of the ship's captain, but of its space station jester, the person hired to keep the mood light in trying times of oxygen leaks and meteor collisions. In this future, 'Dude, testosterone = funny, estrogen = not' was a discredited theorem and the world recognized that a woman's face, body, hair and clothes were as inconsequential to good joke-telling as a man's.

Okay, the fantasy continues. Suppose if - thanks to the Serotonin-boosting nutrients found in Tang - I managed to hold onto my sanity, how then could I best use my talents before I starved to death because I was too dumb to figure out how to grow/irrigate/harvest potatoes in soil made from freeze-dried astronaut poop?

With my crew far away, cartwheeling past the dark side of Uranus, I'd lost my audience, but wait a second - surely the module's sophisticated computers were equipped with Word! I could blog, sending out into cyberspace-space funny little stories about the gravity of my situation; of being the sole inhabitant of an inhospitable globe 225 million miles from the nearest liquor store.

I quickly wrote "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Woman-on-Mars-Menopause" and pressed 'send.' Ideas lit up like shooting stars in my brain (again, credit the Tang). I could write about how I'd rather be trapped in a black hole than an Amway meeting; about hiring Joy Mangano to invent a celestial mop that would clean up space debris; about how weightlessness affects

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Sure, there'd be those men back on earth who couldn't be bothered reading my galactic musings, my cosmic comedy, because, "Dude, it doesn't speak to me." They were of the tiny majority (remember, this is the future) who hadn't caught on to the fact that it doesn't matter who gets the laughs, it matters that there are laughs to be gotten.

Dude. Humor is Universal.

Lorna Landvik lives in Minneapolis and is the author of ten novels. The latest is "Best To Laugh" which is about women in comedy. www.lornalandvik.com and on FaceBook: Lorna Landvik, Author

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