AK: And, finally, a wag is defined as a joker, a wit. Who is your favorite wag, living or dead, and why?


MO: So tough to pick just one. He’s much more, of course, but to me Clive James is the proverbial devastating wit. With James there’s less of the self-delight that ruins a lot of “witty” writers. He’s on a different course, so that even when he’s skewering his prose radiates what I think is the essence of wit—not acid or ice but pure joy. As far as performers, Stephen Colbert seems to only get better; he has honed his wit to such a wicked, joyful sharpness that more than once in recent months I have actually thanked heaven for him.