The Charlie Hebdo comics raise a lot of questions. Is it acceptable to deliberately offend people? Does free expression trump hurt feelings? Should there be an exemption for faith, a place where speech should be limited?
But there’s an even more immediate question: are the comics funny?
Not being French, I’ll never understand the French sense of humor. It tends to be deep, biting, satirical, and … well, not exactly laugh-out-loud. Good satire is often not really funny as much as painful, after all. Then again, bullets are even more painful.
Was that last comment satirical or just in bad taste?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
There has to be more to it, doesn’t there? Doesn’t this “Santa” guy have some ulterior motive?
We live in a time made for satire. Everything is changing so rapidly that the powers that are have trouble holding on, the flood of news is difficult to make sense of, and even our language is often inadequate to explain what’s going on. Everything and everyone seems vaguely hypocritical and irrelevant. That’s why the Daily Show and The Colbert Report are so successful.
Shame then that so much “satire” isn’t really funny – or actually satirical.
You may have unwittingly believed a story shared on basefook or some other social media site that seemed true but wasn’t. Many stories written about Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN) for example are based on faked quotes that seem like something she might say – but didn’t. What many aspiring satirists fail to understand is that satire is more than just fake news, it has to reveal an inner truth that, at its best, is slightly painful. Also, satire has to be funny, we can’t forget that.
If I learned anything from teevee sitcoms, it’s that summer is a time for re-runs. Actually, I learned everything I know from sitcoms, which is why I’m never going to get off this damned island. I hope you like this piece from last year.
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.