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.

Ok, midgets can be funny

October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Every year the ad agency where my husband works has a costume themed holiday party. Last year it was the 80s. One of the guys decided to go as Fantasy Island and flew in a midget he hired to be Tattoo. He was one of the finalists and as he was standing up there on stage he reaches down and picks this poor guy up for more applause. I’m sure some people thought it was funny. To me, they both just looked uncomfortable and you could see on the guy’s face that he may have crossed a line.

I’ve never thought it was funny to make fun of little people. It just always seems a little tasteless no matter how much the person seems to be into it. I’ve never thought it’s that funny to make fun of people for who they are, unless of course it’s Michelle and Marcus Bachmann. They ask for it.

Last night, I decided to challenge my ban against laughing at little people and went to see Brad Williams perform at Comedy Works in Denver. He refers to himself as a dwarf and likes to “make humorous observations on disability, relationships, sex, and race”.  He also likes giving lap dances as you can see. That is not me, by the way.

He didn’t have to try to be funny because as a little person, he has crazy things happen to him regularly that are legitimately funny from women with smurf fetishes wanting to paint him blue to black kids regularly asking what the hell is wrong with him. Instead of letting it get to him he embraces the wacky world of people, normal or not, and comes back with some funny stories.

One of the funniest aspects of the evening was how he would make fun of other kinds of people…fat people, white people, black people, disabled people. He even argued that black people should give up having a month of the year since everything is going so well for them now and technically February is the shortest month, so it should belong to midgets.

I still won’t be laughing at little people anytime soon but it was fun to laugh with him. He was one funny little guy.

The nature of humor

October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Humor occurs when the brain recognises a pattern that surprises it, and that recognition of this sort is rewarded with the experience of the humorous response, an element of which is broadcast as laughter.” – Alastair Clarke

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about why I’m drawn to certain type of humor over others. I tend to laugh out loud every time I watch the Daily Show but then I sit through some of the movies that are supposed to be funny and am bored instead. Bridesmaids was a recent exception. That Kristen Wiig is pretty funny.

I like supporting the female comedians and bought Bossypants, Tina Fey’s book, this weekend. I feel like it’s trying to be funny instead of just being funny. I found myself pulling out David Sedaris’s Squirrel Meets Chipmunk instead. I think Tina Fey is funny in many ways, love 30 Rock, but I didn’t find her reflections on her life that funny. It felt like she was trying to make them funny. Maybe it will get better. When I read David Sedaris, on the other hand, his life legitimately was funny. You can tell reading his books that he finds it funny himself.

Today I’ve been reflecting on some of my own funny moments over the past year. A lot of them were the result of my blog project and getting out doing things I don’t normally do and the unexpected things that occurred as a result. From getting chased off a farm by a pygmy goat to almost having to go to the emergency room after a failed home coffee scrub, I’ve had some laughs over things I’ve done. The one that had me close to peeing my pants was the experience of ice fishing. It was a perfect comedy of errors from taking a half hour to augur a hole to find only 18″ of water to having the wind crazily pick up and watching my husband go flying across the lake with our tent, it was the hardest I’ve laughed in awhile.

Laughter is the best medicine

October 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
– Mark Twain

Sometimes when days seem dark it’s time to seek out the funny in life. When something bad happens it can throw you off and make you feel like it will go on forever. That first time you laugh (really laugh) after a rough time, you feel the dark clouds moving on and know the worst is over.

This week I need a laugh, not a forced one, but maybe a prodded one.

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