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Q. One thing that impresses me about your work is that you totally avoid the whimsy trap. How do you do that?

A. I guess it’s by trying to stay true to my own sense of humor and avoid the cloying. We try to never be so ironic that we’re making fun of the pieces. With “War and Peace,” for example, we never wanted to be making fun of Tolstoy — though we might make light of Tolstoy at times. You want to be telling a story and give the audience a cathartic experience, which is more rewarding in the end than just cheap laughs.

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