I developed a sense of humor to protect myself from abuse and jeering. I learned to roll with the punches. There's nothing like humor to help you do that.

There's a line in Plan B that "laughter is carbonated holiness." Always my salvation was laughter–laughing with friends, with girlfriends, laughing in the dark. The name of my first book was Hard Laughter, about trying to keep one's sense of humor and one's head above water in extreme crisis, which at that time was my father's brain cancer.

So I'm not sure how much humor the hardship has given me. But it turned out that when hardships came, the sense of humor of my friends, and of my own, saved the day.

This is the first half of a two-part interview. Read the second half.