Jean Kerr Essay, Research Paper
May 3, 1999
Jean Kerr?s Humorous Approach at Everyday Life
Jean Kerr was a woman with a great style of writing; she was like Thorton Wilder in the sense that she likes to see the big picture in life. She uses logic in her writings. Her family somewhat affected her type of writing. She tended to focus on the humorous aspect of her life and that could relate to almost everyone who read her works. Kerr had a wonderful sense of humor and that helped her write on the level of her readers.
Jean Kerr was born July 10, 1923 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to Kitty and Thomas Collins. Her father was a building contractor, her mother was a housewife, and she had a younger sister. She is a very pretty woman with a nice Irish complexion and she is very tall. She went to Marywood Seminary and the college, both in Scranton. While working in the school?s play she met her future husband, Walter Kerr. At that time he was a drama critic, and he persuaded her to move to Washington DC and the Catholic University to study. Then after dating for two years, Walter and Jean were married on August 16, 1943.
The newly married couple did many things together, including writing plays. Their first play was The Song of Bernadette, an adaptation of a novel by Franz Werfel. This play made it all the way to Broadway but closed after only three performances. The reviews for this were mixed, to some it was ?far superior to the movie?? (Candee 222) and to others it was ?conventionally written with too little compulsion and excitement? (Candee 222). With the influence of her husband she tended to write better plays, but her greatest influence is probably her children. She is said to have written most of her works in her car just a few blocks away from the house and the children. She has one daughter and five sons, enough to make a whole library of funny tales about everyday happenings of ordinary people can all relate to. Kerr wrote about the problems that are faced in everyday life and focused on the humorous side of them. She also has said, ?the most important thing is that I am a Catholic. It?s a superstructure within which you can work, like the sonnet. I need that.? (Wakeman 780). Her religion was very important to her; she is very involved in the Catholic religion.
Kerr?s most famous work was Touch and Go, a comedy in which Kerr and her husband make fun of intelligent topics with fast dexterity. This play ran 176 performances on Broadway. Jenny Kissed Me, Finishing Touches, Mary, Mary, and King of Hearts also made it to Broadway, the latter play running for nine months. Mary, Mary was another of her plays to get mixed reviews. Henry Howes said it was ?two almost constantly funny hours of her own brand of comic verisimilitude.?(Wakeman 779) Gerald Weales thought, ?every line is a laugh line? (Wakeman 779). Yet other were still unimpressed with it and said it was ?thin as glass and just as transparent? (Wakeman 779). The play Finishing Touches got some good reviews; it was labeled professional and elegant.
Kerr also wrote a couple of books about everyday life and the humorous aspects of it. Please Don?t Eat the Daisies was her best book and stayed on the bestseller list for more than twenty weeks. Elizabeth Janeway said it was ?a very funny book by a woman with a wonderful eye and ear for those moments of lunacy in which every normal life abounds? (Wakeman 780). This book was about the typical catastrophes that mothers face everyday. Please Don?t Eat the Daisies was filmed and a television series was made from it.
The Snake Has All the Lines and Penny Candy was two more of her works. A few critics found The Snake Has All the Lines to be a lot funnier than Please Don?t Eat the Daisies, but for the most part the latter book was more popular. In The Snake Has All the Lines she tends to be nicer and more consistent when telling stories about her family. Penny Candy was yet another story that Kerr tells anecdotes about her family and what seems to be typical with almost every truly American family. This book did not seem to make the same impression on critics even though it was just as good as her others.
Kerr?s style was a popular style of her day, many women could relate because they were stay at home moms and dealt with the same everyday occurrences that she wrote about. No matter what the problem was she seemed to find the humorous side of it. She has been established as ?one of the funniest women writers of her generation? (Candee 222). Kerr had a way of making whatever little disasters that kids could possibly create turn out to be all right and even get a laugh out of it. Young mothers could especially relate to her style because they need all the help they could get out of child bearing. She came up with a method to get anything done with her kids; haircuts seemed to be one of the big problems, she had her own way of persuasion to get it done. It seemed to work because they are still alive and her persuasion was to kill them. Even the most frustrating things that happened on a day to day basis were funny as far as she was concerned. One of the main reasons she is so funny is logic, she makes it work with what she does.
Jean Kerr could make anyone laugh about the everyday problems that people face. She and her husband had great success in the plays that they collaborated on and she did quite well on the ones she did by herself. She wrote about things that women everywhere could relate to, that made her popular then and today. Considering all the harsh critiscm she still kept at it, maybe she only paid attention to the good reviews that she got. Her family was the reason behind her books, so she has them to thank for that. Jean Kerr is a very outstanding writer and everyone who needs a little humor in his or her everyday life should recognize her.