Dick Cavett has an item in today's "New York Times" that relates an anecdote that is so withering and symmetrical that it bears repeating here.
The setting is a game show in the early days of TV. Eddie Fisher is a contestant, George S. Kaufman, "the gloomy dean of American comedy" was a panelist.
The show was called “This is Show Business” and in it a performer would come on, tell the panel a problem of his, perform and then return to sit before the panel. Each panelist would then comment on the person’s 'problem.'"
What follows is Kaufman's comment on Fisher's problem:
"Mr. Fisher, on Mt. Wilson there is a telescope. A powerful telescope that has made it possible to magnify the distant stars to approximately 12 times the magnification of any previous telescope. [pause]
"And, Mr. Fisher, atop Mt. Palomar, sits a more recently perfected telescope. This magnificent instrument can magnify the stars up to six times the magnification of the Mt. Wilson telescope.
"As improbable as it would doubtless be, if you could somehow contrive to place the Mt. Wilson telescope inside the Mt. Palomar telescope, Mr. Fisher . . . you still wouldn’t be able to see my interest in your problem."