Feature

Woody Allen on growing old

Why Woody Allen isn’t joking much about death anymore

Woody Allen isn’t joking much about death anymore, says Douglas McGrath in Interview. Black humor has long been a hallmark of Allen’s career, but now he’s 72, and death is no longer just the punch line of an existential joke. “There’s nothing good about getting older,” he says. “Absolutely nothing. Your body breaks down and you’re closer to death. So that’s an unbeatable combination.” Any advantages that age confers, he feels, are vastly overrated. “You do gain a couple of things—a little bittersweet and sour wisdom from your heartbreaks and failures. But what you lose is so catastrophic in every other way.” Allen still just can’t wrap his head around the finality of it all. “The whole thrust of science and the medical profession is to try to prolong life, to keep you from dying. But death is a no-win proposition. Because you know what happens? You die. I’m not a religious person, so you die, and then you disintegrate in one way or another—either you’re cremated or you decompose—and you’re gone. That’s it. There’s no other at bat. It’s one strike, and you’re out.”

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