Melancholy was his stock in trade. All his songs deal with misery, pain, and violence, usually visited on him. His primary activity in performance consisted of being lured from one hideous situation into a worse one. Onstage, his melancholy made audiences laugh immeasurably; offstage, a deeply inward soul, he carried it with him, retreating into his dressing room or his library at home to read philosophy and poetry. One of his dearest friends among the colleagues of his later career supplied the character matrix that everyone writing about him inevitably quotes: "[He] was the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest... More >>>