If ever a reason to laugh was warranted, it must have been the during the Great Depression of the 1920s.
The same could be said for the time during World War II when most of the planet was occupied with the effort of staying alive.
Fortunately, in Australia at least, a reason to laugh was being presented in newspaper columns by the great humourist, Lennie Lower.
Lennie was born in the town of Dubbo in 1903 and led a somewhat itinerant early life, deserting twice from different areas of the Australian military, and sleeping rough in Sydney when unemployed. He had written from a very early age and found his niche in the late 1920s writing for a living, initially with the Labor Daily, and then the Australian Women’s Weekly, the Daily Telegraph and Smith’s Weekly.
At his peak, Lennie wrote eight newspaper articles every week, mostly prepared by hand in the bar of his favourite pub in Sydney. Lennie was quite a drinker and as a result sadly succumbed much too soon in 1947, at age only forty three.
In 1930, thankfully Lennie produced his only novel “Here’s Luck” and it has stood the test of time to remain fresh today, with many laughs intermingled with bits of home spun philosophy and real life characters. The book is indeed a comedy classic.
Lennie’s only other book “Here’s Another” is a collection of short stories and newspaper columns, and also has moments of great fun.
What I find most interesting about Lennie’s work (about from the laughs of course) is that often the humour is reminiscent of modern comedy greats, such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Australia’s own Barry Humphries. Despite its simplicity of language and style, there is a cerebral aspect to Lower’s writing which belies the persona of the author.
When Lennie died there was little media reaction and he was largely forgotten for many years. However in the 1960s some of his columns were gathered into new compilations, and awareness of his wonderful literary deeds grew.
Thereafter his reputation was restored with a number of stage plays of his life, memorials in his honour at the Dubbo Museum and the Criterion Hotel, as well as acknowledgement of his influence by comedians of today.
Lennie Lower is no longer the forgotten comic genius, with his small body of work giving testimony to his undoubted talents as a comedy writer. Thanks Lennie.