Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps: for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.
—— William Hazlin
ANALYSTS have had their go at humor, and I have read some of their interpretive literature, but without being greatly instructed. Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.
—— E. B. White
“Hey, I got a great Knock Knock joke for you… you start.”
“Mmmm… that’s not funny.”
Like most people (I suppose) I love to laugh. I’m almost always in the mood for a good joke or a funny story. Occasionally I’ve even been lucky enough to be the source of one or two of these.
I wrote a joke of my own once. Once.
It goes like this…
“What’s the most annoying thing about vegans?”
“I don’t know, what?”
“Their shit really doesn’t stink.”
Now, I know this may not be funny to you, but I have a few friends who are vegans that laughed out loud when I told it to them.
I think I was about fourteen when my father found one of my copies of Mad magazine. Unfortunately, it was one with a particularly sexualized theme. There were all kinds of photos and drawing of fruits and vegetables that very clearly resembled sex organs. Stuff like that. I thought it was really funny.
Dad took one look and pronounced it to be pornography.
I took a class in comic literature in school at the University of Iowa. That’s when I read about “the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane” and “the injection of the mechanical upon the human”. Very unfunny stuff like that.
It was also in this class that I read the quotes at the top of this post.
In preparing for this post I did a little searching and found (here for example) that such unfunny stuff is still being written.
Like most men (I suppose) I also have heard (and repeated) many “dirty jokes” throughout my life that do little more than denigrate woman. I don’t tell them or support the telling of them anymore (just as with racist jokes) and I don’t feel good about the fact that I ever did.
In redefining masculinity (something I think of as a cultural priority right now) men also need to rethink what it is that we find funny.
Of course humor (like poetry) is so very culturally specific.
When I lived in Japan I saw a very popular TV show called The Sukebe (すけべ) Factory. No matter how much I read and hear of how Japanese humor is really good and simply misunderstood (like in this article) the thing I saw on that show were about the most unfunny things I’d ever seen being treated as funny.
Except for perhaps The Aristocrats Joke. That sick thing is all American and they even made a movie about it with America’s most prominent comedians participating.
Please do NOT watch it!
So I guess my point is that as the world gets smaller and smaller, and as the crashing sounds of clashing cultures gets louder and louder, we all would do well to do some serious examination of how we can deal with all the differences…
And still find something that makes us laugh.
I just hope it doesn’t simply devolve into whatever the lowest common denominator finds funny (as discussed here.)
That would suck!
“So the Buddha comes up to this hot dog vendor and says… ‘Can you make me one with everything?’ “
“Mmmm… I don’t get it.”
“You know who the Buddha is right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“And he’s asking a hot dog vendor to make him ONE with everything.”
Yes, I got that. But wasn’t the Buddha a vegetarian?”