Saturday, June 24, 2006

What do I find funny?

So I'm out last night and sitting with a friend, and the question arises, "What do you find funny?" Possibly the most outstanding feature of the guy I'm sitting with is his wit. He is constantly ready with a witty retort. He's usually on his game. I don't think it's unfair to say that this guy knows "funny". Anyway, he decides to pull out one of the latest jokes he's heard. The delivery is good and keeps me engaged just enough to bring me to the end of the joke. The punchline comes, and he doesn't get a laugh from me. I can't fake it... it simply doesn't amuse me enough to get a visible reaction. So now I have to explain why. I've never liked canned jokes... usually just tune out after the first ten seconds. Can't remember them and don't try to. Does that mean I have no sense of humor? That's what we were trying to get at in our discussion.

If you know me (and you probably do if you are reading this at this early stage of my blogging), you would most likely not say that I am humorless. I'm sarcastic, caustic, direct, jaded... whatever... but I do laugh. And no, I'm not really into schadenfreude, despite my "germanity". Truly most of the stuff that people around me find hilarious confuses me. For instance, Saturday Night Live... I'm lucky if I crack a smile during the entire show. Adam Sandler movies (other than Punch-Drunk Love), Jim Carrey (yes, the fan of professional wrestling), the Austin Powers movies, Mel Brooks, Bill Murray (since Meatballs), Rush Limbaugh, PJ O'Rourke, every sitcom on television... JUST NOT FUNNY... none of it. Even Office Space, a film loved by friends with very similar sensibilities... I just don't understand. Do I have Aspberger Syndrome? Am I a chronic depressive?

No. Indeed I do find some things very, very funny. The Ali G show makes me smile until my face hurts. I found most of Mr. Show uproarious. Bill Hicks, David Cross, Doug Stanhope... they are irreverent, intelligent and genius. You want goofy humor... try Fishing with Gandhi. Or watch John Lurie's old IFC show, Fishing with John, for a mix of dry intelligence and lighthearted play. For political humor... The Onion, Jon Stewart or the Colbert report. Shit, once upon a time Michael Moore was even funny. If you don't believe me, watch the first season of the Awful Truth. Nothing better than seeing millionaire investment traders throw cream pies at homeless folks on the streets of Manhattan.

Maybe the common element is subtlety and multiple layers. Maybe I'm just pompous and mean. But I believe that humor needs to be transgressive, and to do that properly it has to defy conventions. Mainstream media humor goes for the amalgamation of the average American's humor. It's safe, banal and easily digestible. But it doesn't make me laugh. Anyway, let's change the subject... didya hear the one about...


Anonymous DeeA2Z said...

Typical, "normal" sense of humor? You? No. I believe you judiciously choose the moments you find humorous; I would classify your sense of humor as more cerebral. Besides, would you really want to revisit those "bathroom" humor years? Nope, neither would I.

Talking with you used to exhaust me, because you don't make small talk. If I wanted to have a conversation with you I absolutely needed to have my brain engaged, and sometimes I was just too damned tired to bother. Didn't mean I wasn't interested, but those missed conversations most certainly deprived me of appreciating your sense of humor as it developed and matured. I didn't really appreciate your sense of humor until you were in college. You are not a funny individual, but those rare glimpses of humor I have witnessed were all the more meaningful to me in that relating to you seemed easier.

Some of the best conversations we've had were intense and exhausting for both of us, and usually drew exasperation and anger from me; but at least I heard your point of view. I like to think I had my mind opened as well. I'd like to see you drop some of your humor reserve and let more of it free. I think it would be fun.

1:59 AM  

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