On Humor

Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday, where you never know what you’ll get.  Today, I’m thinking about humor.  A sense of humor is almost like a fingerprint.  It is so unique to each person.  Even though we might laugh at some of the same things, we never laugh at all the same things. 

I started thinking about this a couple of months ago when Kait Nolan wrote a wonderful blog post on just being yourself.  (Read it here.)  I like Kait because she often sounds like me–or at least my inner dialogue.

 

In the post I linked, Kait mentions that she doesn’t like low brow humor.  Her comment was off-handed, but it got me thinking about what kind of humor I like.  It made me wonder what kind of humor other people like.

I laugh at the things I didn’t expect to hear or see.  When something catches me off guard, it tickles me.  We can all predict the “here’s where you laugh” moments, but I tend to remember the lines or the scenes that surprise me.

One example is the scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson explains to Brett where he went wrong in his dealings with Marcellos Wallace.  Click here to see what I’m talking about.  My favorite one-liner is delivered at 1:22.  The first time I heard this, I laughed so hard I had to pause the DVD and wait until it passed.

The 1980s cult classic  Heathers has a lot of those shocking one-liners.  The one delivered at Ram and Kurt’s double funeral made me laugh the hardest.  It was exactly how Ram and Kurt would not have wanted to be remembered, and it was so highly inappropriate that it was hysterical.  Click here to see what I mean. 

That 70s Show often shocked me into laughing.  The shows I grew up on were a lot more tame.  It was a big, huge deal on Roseanne when Becky got drunk and was hungover the next day.  The famous “circle” on That 70s Show, however, appeared in almost every episode.  This scene never fails to make me howl.

We all have different ideas of what’s funny.  I wonder how each sense of humor develops.  Do we laugh at the things our family laughed at when we were young?  (Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t.)  Is the sense of humor an outcropping of our individual personalities?  Does it grow with us?

My husband has this friend–let’s call him Rick–who says and does shocking things so he can laugh at people’s reactions.

For instance, Rick told everybody at work that one of his co-workers is a swamp donkey.  Then, he encouraged everybody to call this guy “The Donk.”  What emerged is this elaborate web of jokes revolving around The Donk.  Everybody text messages jokes about The Donk.  The irony?  This is compliment.  They think The Donk is a good guy.

Another example.  Rick went on a weekend trip with us.  The motel room where we stayed had a notepad in the desk.  Rick opened the notepad to the middle page and wrote F-U-C-K on it.  Then, he put it back in the desk.  We don’t know if anybody found it or not.  Just imagining someone’s reaction, however, made this a worthwhile activity for Rick.

One last Rick example, and we’ll leave him behind.  Rick went with us to the Texas Renaissance Festival a couple of years ago.  Rick began walking up behind people, especially this dude wearing a centaur costume, and posting suggestively.  My husband followed Rick all around the festival taking pictures of Rick posing in this manner.  I am still surprised we didn’t get beaten up or thrown out.

My daddy is into potty humor.  One of Dad’s favorite stories takes place in a public restroom.  Dad was in the restroom taking care of business when another occupant passed gas…very loudly.  The gas passer said, “Speak to me O’ Faithful One.”

Dad loves this story, and it does have merit.  Let’s face it, farts can be funny.

We took Cosmo (my Pomeranian) to visit my parents on Easter Weekend.  It’s two hour drive from my driveway to Mom and Dad’s driveway.  As we got out into the country, we passed several areas where several skunks had been hit on the highway.  If you’ve never smelled skunk roadkill, believe me, there are few things that stink worse.

When we passed the first one, Cosmo was laying on my husband’s lap.  He raised his little head and gave my husband a disgusted glare.  Then, he came over to my side of the car and settled down on my lap.

Who farted?

A few minutes later, we passed another roadkill skunk.  Cosmo raised his head and looked at me with as much reproach and disgust as a little dog can summon.  Then, he went to the other side of the car to sit with my husband again–apparently having forgotten the first incident.

I’ll share one more “funny to me” before I end this post.  Many years ago, my husband and I were sitting in a bar on Bourbon Street (New Orleans, Louisiana).  A young woman was in the bar celebrating her twenty-first birthday–hard.

This chick very obviously wanted to be the center of attention.  She made sure everybody who came into the bar knew it was her twenty-first birthday.  After a while, she decided to sing karaoke and dance around.  She finally had every eye in the bar on her.

All of a sudden, she took off running in the direction of the women’s restroom.  She slipped and slid the final few feet to the women’s restroom door.  She crashed into a metal trashcan next to the restroom–BONG!–and dumped her beer into it.  I started laughing, and my husband said we had to leave.

The thing about humor is that it’s very subjective.  I suspect at least one person has been offended by something I’ve talked about today.  And, if they weren’t offended, they at least thought, “That’s not funny” or “I can’t believe I like her.”

But here’s something to think about.  Someone once told me that humor is pain turned upside down.  If you think about it, even a pie in the face is laughing at someone else’s misfortune.  We do it because laughter is medicinal.  Sometimes it’s either laugh about nothing or cry about everything (to paraphrase Larry McMurtry).