In Tim Sample’s opinion, now is the perfect time for a laugh.

“Humor is used primarily as a means of lubricating a difficult truth, of getting through difficult times and building bridges,” said Sample, 65, of Calais. “It’s about having your perspective changed. You laugh because something surprises you.”

Sample thinks that during these particularly divisive times, after a presidential election that further divided the country, laughter can be the common ground.

“My goal is to be in front of a group of little old ladies, Catholic nuns, agnostics, yuppies, triplets, whoever, and have them all laughing at the same thing,” said Sample. “That’s the power humor has.”

Sample will discuss his career, thoughts behind his Maine-based humor and the power of laughter in the face of adversity on Tuesday at One Longfellow Square in Portland, as part of the Portland Press Herald’s Maine Voices Live series.

During a career spanning four decades, Sample became Maine’s best-known humorist, and he has worked to keep alive the specific traditions of Maine humor. He’s lived and performed all over the state. He brought Maine national attention during his 11 years as a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning,” from 1993 to 2004. His “Postcards From Maine” segments on the show introduced the country to lobster boat races, urchin diving, mud season, the ups and downs of potato farming.

He’s recorded humor albums, done audiobooks and voice-over work, and has written more than a half dozen books, including the Maine classic “Saturday Night at Moody’s Diner.”

A native of Boothbay Harbor, Sample lived in Brunswick and Portland in recent years before moving to Calais a few years ago. His wife, Kevin, got a job as a social worker there and so they decided to move.

Sample says he’s semiretired these days, doing maybe 35 shows a year. But his voice-over and audiobook work continues. He read and voiced all the characters for the Stephen King story “Drunken Fireworks,” which came out last year. It’s the kind of story Sample might tell himself, about a man and his mother living in a cabin on a Maine lake, who get caught up in a fireworks battle with a neighboring family.

Sample says Maine humor is not really about stories set in Maine. It’s more about perspective, about how you tell the story. Sample compares Maine humor to Jewish humor.

“Jewish humor, like Maine humor, comes out of tough times, and it tends to be rooted in perspective. It’s about how you see me and how I see you,” said Sample. “It’s survivalist humor. In Maine, it comes from this state where it’s so rural hardscrabble economy, hardscrabble weather, hardscrabble everything.”

Though Maine humor comes from hard times, it’s gentle, Sample says. The humor might “puncture pomposity,” but it doesn’t usually have a mean streak.

When Sample appeared at gay rights events in Maine in the 1990s, he used a line that went like this: “People in Maine don’t care much about what you do in the bedroom. They care whether you have jumper cables and if you’re gonna stop.”

“I like people and I think most people like people, so that’s what I try to cultivate with my humor,” Sample said.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

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