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Bring da Funny

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies.
 – E B White.

What makes something funny?  It turns out that there are many different Humor Theories and none of them are funny.  That may seem like a problem right there, but the irony that you expect it to be funny and it isn’t could be funny if you … Hey!  Wait!

OK, so this duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Why is it so often a duck?” and the bartender says, “Look, if you want to analyze stereotypes you could ask why it’s always a bar.”  The duck shrugs his wings, sits down, and gets so hammered he doesn’t even remember pecking the priest, the rabbi, and the lawyer to death.

The point is that some things are funny and some things aren’t.  What’s the difference?  No one really knows.  And that’s kind of funny, at least if you don’t think about it too much.

What most theories of humor all have in common is that funny seems to be a process of something not turning out the way you expect it to.  A word is used badly as a pun, the very proper looking news show has a potty mouth, or your best friend laughs so hard at a joke that the milk he was drinking shoots out of his nose.  Nearly everything has a setup or an implied setup to be funny and then goes against it.

OK, I’m losing you.  The point is that funny has to sneak up.  But at the same time it helps if you’re in the mood to laugh.  That’s why old standards like “A blank walks into a bar” work so well – they tell you to be ready to laugh while they set the scene.  Besides, what would a blank drink in the first place?

There may not seem to be much point to this, and perhaps there isn’t.  But in a world where everyone seems to be outraged by nearly everything it doesn’t take long for nearly everything to become very funny.  It’s all in the setup, which real life doesn’t do quite to the same form as a duck walking in a bar.

But it’s there.  And it’s time to mine this for comedy gold.

I’ve been advocating humor to fight the rise of anger, selfishness, and general grumpy-grump that has plagued our “politics”.  The problem is that in order to organize around humor you have to teach it, at least to some extent.  You have to bring da funny.  So how do you do it?

I think that the more I watch people being grumpy the more I realize that the setup is already there.  Mocking is a form of satire which can take off from nearly any situation.  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it opens the door to a lot of other forms quickly.  It can get us in the mood for bigger things.  It works on both grumpy people and the jargon class, too.

But that’s about it.  If there’s one thing I know this subject it’s that since at least Shakespeare a comedy has been 70-90 minutes and a tragedy 120+ so it’s best to wrap it up quickly.  Will this work?  I’m not a psychic, but the last time I saw one she was laughing and carrying on so much I hit her – I always like to strike a happy medium. Goodnight everyone!

15 thoughts on “Bring da Funny

  1. I get it, I really do, but I just don’t find those people funny. I’ll try to laugh at them and see how it goes. But I just don’t find Beck or Palin or any of the right-wing loonies to be funny at all. Good jokes though!

  2. I think Sarah Palin is hilarious! She has no sense of humor at all and takes everythinng very personally. She can’t back down and always can be counted on to dig a deeper hole for herself. Someone that flawed is very funny, IMHO. Beck isn’t funny as much, but he’s so easy to mock it makes up for it a bit.

    Give it a try, I think you’ll take the sting out of ’em quickly if you give funny a chance!

  3. Maybe I’m on the wrong page here but I think there are as many grumpy people on the left as there are on the right. I think they all make good targets and I support making fun of all of them. People who take themselves so seriously that they are untouchable never make good leaders of any kind IMHO.

  4. Dale, I completely agree here. I’m a lefty, sure, but those who are serving themselves and are far too cautious to take action (lest they upset someone) are of no use to anyone. We need to make fun of them, too. I honestly don’t think there is a “left” and a “right” that makes a big difference in this time of crisis – what we need is a commitment to get our financial house in order quickly, which is to say a commitment to compromise and experimentation. Anyone, left or right, who is too full of themselves to make that happen is a problem.

  5. Political T.V. commercials prove one thing: some candidates can tell all their good points and qualifications in just 30 seconds.

    (I got that from a site with a lot of jokes on it)

  6. So you want a course in making jokes as part of political training? That would be great! But not everyone is funny. I agree that simple mocking is probably the easiest but it still has to be done well to be funny. Some people just sound stupid or stuck up when they do it.

  7. Tornado: It is too easy to be considered a “sport”, but it could make a good “pastime”.

    Anna: Yes, that’s exactly it! But it is hard sometimes to write good jokes. I would like people to think about it as people like Jon Stewart lead by example, is all. I’m providing backup. 🙂

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