Humor Explained

Warning:  attempts to explain the inner workings of humor always comes out unfunny, kind of like taking apart a beautiful woman’s face to examine the basis of beauty.  This post will be no exception.  I’m not writing this for any particlar audience so if I lose you part way through due to boredom so be it.  This is meant only as an assortment of observations.

When I was a kid my brother and I were into Mad and Cracked magazines.  I found these publications to be hilarious although most of the political stuff blew right past me because I was too young to undertand what the heck they were talking about.  Even when I didn’t get it I knew it was funny and this, along with my cousin Raymond’s witticisms, was the primary source of stuff that made us laugh. 

When we were in Texas my cousins, my brother and I would all get together and put together impromptu skits using the stereo cassette recorder and microphone.  There was always an atmosphere of one-upmanship in these exchanges and this ultimately led to the creation of our annual Freaky of the Year competition wherein each of us was given roughly five minutes to come up with the funniest routine possible.  We held the annual competition every few weeks or so and my older brother and cousin were always funnier than me but the prize invariably went to our severely mentally retarded cousin Marco Antonio who always won by virtue of just being himself.  I learned something from this and that is not to try too hard.  Unfortunately I carried that lesson over into my academics rather than my attempts at comedy.

The seamless one liners in M*A*S*H were further inspiration when I got to my teenage years.  I wanted nothing more than to have the ability to fire back incediary quips at the first sign of an insult in  my exchanges with verbal opponents.  I often DID come up with scalding zings, only I usually didn’t think of them until like a day after the initial insult was cast.  From this I learned that there was another important component of comedy and that is timing.

Of course Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Redd Foxx figure prominantly into stuff I think is funny.  I generally find the black comedians to be funnier than white ones, largely because a lot of white comedian routines come across as too canned (as with most general rules there are some noteable exceptions, none of which I will note here).  The white comedians tend to sound like they’re on stage doing stand up comedy whereas the black guys sound like they’re just chillin in your living room shooting the shit with you. 

The difference between laughing with your mouth and a fully belly laugh is fully described in On the Real Side:  A History of African-American Comedy (note:  this might not even be the book I read as I don’t recognize the cover but the content sounds right, who knows I don’t maintain a card catologue of my reading and I’m not familiar with the do-me decimal system so sue me).  I can’t bear to watch Jerry Seinfeld as his routine just screams formula but Jim Carrey, Sam Kinison, and the Frazier show is stuff I watch for days.  Then of course there is Southpark.

Anyway I’m off the point.  I often find it more effective to lampoon an opponent’s idea rather than to dismantle it (I don’t claim to be as funny as any of  the previous people I’ve just mentioned, I listed them only to describe my personal favorites).  When you systematically attempt to take someone’s idea apart they often get defensive.  Cite a study that backs your idea and your opponent is liable to simply pretend not to have heard at all and the point is lost on them.  People are stupid like that because mankind in general tends to get defensive, overgeneralize, and overestimate their own analytical powers.  Get the whole room laughing at them, though, and it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that they’ve lost. 

I think this is why someone on INTJ-open once told me my sense of humor was merciless and cruel.  It’s because the root issue is often an idea of dire consequence, the survival of which is actually not funny at all.  You want to know something about a person, you find out the kind of stuff they find funny.  This provides a convenient end-around rather than asking a person directly whereupon they will give you the official spin.  Examining a person’s sense of humor is better than a dozen Freudian slips.

With that in mind here is something I find funny. It’s funny precisely because it’s not.

28 Responses to “Humor Explained”

  1. Phelps says:

    It’s not funny until the next hurricane happens and they all run around saying, “Why? Why does this keep happening to us?” It’s like an entire city played by Chris Farley as Tommy Boy.

  2. mexi says:

    Oh of course that’s the funny part (especially if they end up making their hair stick up at the time of crisis like Chris Farley). The unfunny part is the FEMA reward for building the house out of sticks.

  3. Jenn says:

    I used to sneak the TV on to watch M*A*S*H. Look, Mexi! We have two things in common, we’re Spanish and we like M*A*S*H.

    You wanna come make snow angels with me?

    And I like your sense of humor… mostly.

  4. mexi says:

    You guys have snow over there???? We’re completely out, having had an uber mild winter so far. I’d love to come make snow angels with you. But mine always come out looking like this.

  5. Jenn says:

    That’s perfect! It’ll balance mine with a halo over it’s head. Yin and yang!

    Yeah, crazy weather.

  6. R says:

    Teh Mexigogue is Spanish? Wouldn’t that make him Teh Antoniobanderasgogue?

  7. Phelps says:

    I thought Spanish people were white guys who talked funny?

  8. mexi says:

    Spanish, Spaniard, Chicano, bato, Mejicano, Latino, Hispanic, Mestizo, Taquito. . . I’m so confused!

  9. Phelps says:

    I thought you guys had decided on Latino at a big meeting or something.

  10. Why do chics on the Internet like the phrase “HeHe” so much?

  11. Jenn says:

    Hehe is a sign of “priss” and they’re trying to be cute. It’s lame. If you use it, no offense. When a guy does it, it’s a sign that he is gay. And when they do I wanna punch them in the nuts. It’s not CUTE! Well, unless they’re gay.

    And I must have missed that meeting. Mexi, did you make it? Is there a memo? I think you should be my little taquito. Whaddya say? Hehehe

  12. R says:

    Is that “hehehe” pronounced “heh heh heh” or “hee hee hee?” Because if it’s the latter I can totally see the prissy female/gay guy interepratation.

    My girlfriend uses the prissy “hee hee” and is obnoxiously cute when doing so.

  13. OK, Jenn, what about the phrase “Ho! Ho! Ho!”?

  14. Jenn says:

    I don’t know, R. I’ve always wondered that myself. Either way, it drives me nuts. I just haven’t and probably never will take to computer speak. I don’t even like “hahaha” but, it’s the only way to express when I find something funny because “lol” is just yuck. Sometimes they say “heh heh” sometimes “hee hee” but, either way, it’s boo! No offense to the girl.

    CQ, other than Santa or a pimp when would one use that phrase?

  15. Jenn says:

    Where is Mexi today? You guys think he got deported for missing the meeting? Or maybe even for going?

  16. mexi says:

    I’m here. Slow motion today.

  17. R says:

    I don’t ever go to those meetings. The one time I went it was a bunch of Mexicans from Chihuahua. The music was un-fucking-bearable.

    I never went again.

  18. Jenn says:

    It’s only ’cause you don’t know how to Ranchera. I’ll teach you.

  19. Jenn says:

    Uh… I like it like that, she’s working that back I don’t know how to act… slow motion fa me, slow motion fa me…

    Gangsta!!

  20. mexi says:

    Ooh, raunchera! I’m there!

  21. Jenn says:

    Can you ranchera?! Or salsa?! Or cumbia tambien??! And there’s no u. Putt attention, Mexi.

  22. mexi says:

    Well I’m not going if it’s not raunchy.

  23. Jenn says:

    Well, Mexicans can be raunchy, vamos, cabron.

    Phelps, do you shake your ass when you Two-Step?

  24. “La Kooky Cha Cha…”

  25. Phelps says:

    No, I don’t shake my ass because I am straight. Plus, it is hard to shake in Wranglers.

  26. HMT says:

    Unintentional comedy is always the fucken best..

    you need to watch this show that’s on around noon…I think it’s called “ivillage” or something. old producers obviously thought the internet was something new, so the whole “coffee table talk show” is focused around this black british girl telling the hosts what everyone is talking about in the “chat room”

    jesus.. thats just funny, probably why I talked about it.

    we need to start a petition to get that show cancelled. either that OR to expand it’s market share.

    see, it all comes around

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