Playing It Down

E. B. White in the Paris Review.  Thurber:

INTERVIEWER

Does the fact that you’re dealing with humor slow down the production?

THURBER

It’s possible. With humor you have to look out for traps. You’re likely to be very gleeful with what you’ve first put down, and you think it’s fine, very funny. One reason you go over and over it is to make the piece sound less as if you were having a lot of fun with it yourself. You try to play it down. In fact, if there’s such a thing as a New Yorker style, that would be it—playing it down.



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