Timeless or timely humor
October 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
This week I wanted to watch comedies I’ve never seen before, especially some of the classics. The American Film Institute holds “Some Like It Hot” as the #1 comedy of all time (published 2000). I enjoyed the film; it was entertaining but it was also based on a common comedic theme, flipping gender roles. It was pleasantly entertaining but I don’t know that it will stay with me.
As you look at the history of film, themes like flipping gender roles & cross-dressing have made for enduring comedy, going all the way back to Shakespeare. They’re less shocking than entertaining, from Tootsie to Mrs. Doubtfire to Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma franchise.
Slapstick humor, like the Three Stooges, is another example of timeless, entertaining humor.
This week I’ve been thinking about the kind of humor I appreciate most and it’s more about being timely than timeless. I love satire. When I think about what really gets me laughing it is humor that takes on the craziness of the world and applies a light-hearted but thought-provoking lens. Satire like Borat, South Park and the Daily Show are highly entertaining while poking fun at the absurdity of certain aspects of human existence.
Humor helps us cope. When Steve Jobs passed away recently I was sad he was gone and we’d never get to see what he would do next. I was sad that he worked so hard to get to where Apple is today and he wouldn’t get to see it through. I worked on Apple for 3 years and got to understand how he thought and how he saw the world. I never met him personally other than a hello at the sushi counter in the Apple cafeteria, but I was sad for the loss nonetheless. He was someone you aspired to be able to think like. It was hard to read all of the misguided headlines and articles trying to pinpoint his brilliance until I came to the one that hit the nail on the head. The Onion headline read: “Last American Who Knew What the Fuck He was Doing Dies”. I went from feeling bad to laughing and thinking Steve would get a laugh out of that as well.
It’s that kind of humor I want to foster and start applying in my own life. It’s been a hard week for me with not a lot to laugh about, but it’s helped to look for the funny around me. Satire has been a comforting friend.