Response to a Reading: Lorrie Moore

For this assignment, we were to write a response about a literary event that we attended on Davidson College’s campus. I chose to attended the 2017 Conarroe Lecture, where author Lorrie Moore read one of her remarkable pieces of writing.

While listening to the introductions by President Quillen and Mr. Conarroe, I began to question what kind of event I was actually attending, and if I was underdressed; however, the formality of the event rapidly changed when Lorrie Moore entered the stage. When Moore approached the podium, the first thing she asked the audience was if she could be heard, because she once did an entire reading speaking into a reading lamp, which she thought was the mic. This comment set the tone for the next hour: honesty mixed with humor.

Throughout the reading, the crowd was twisting in their seats with laughter in response to the witty and wicked lines in her story, “Thank You For Having Me.” The story had moments of the three things she said are always funny: weddings, incongruity, and compression. Her comedy came in waves with statements like how bridesmaids looked like the “baby peach of aspirin” and the colors of clonazepam, or how the protagonist hoped they would play “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at her funeral “just to fuck with people.” In between these comedic lines were moments of sinking, into deep thoughts and truths of how people need weddings to balance funerals, how cemeteries are the kind of freedom that is the opposite of free, and that it’s okay to marry a lot because at least they are loving and being loved. These ideas prove what Moore told us before her reading: comedy needs tragedy, and comedy is opportunistic.

I loved this rollercoaster of comedy and tension. Her reading delivered precisely what she expressed in the beginning: comedy looks for moments of tension and then leaps in and surprises, however, you cannot be sure who will laugh when. Moore certainly proved this as she surprised the audience continuously. The room felt comfortable even though our heads were full of uncomfortable thoughts of reality, because the humor kept us excited and eager for more.