What's So Funny?
Have you ever laughed so hard that you almost embarrassed yourself? Humor is so personal. It is strange how what I find funny may not be funny to you at all. It makes journaling my thoughts harder than you would think. The last thing I want to do is bring a negative cloud to anyone’s day.
Humor is driven by so many things – personal experience, values, upbringing, and even mood. And you cannot overlook that sometimes it is bigotry and ignorance that skew opinion and insight. No one wants to believe that is true, but it happens. Sadly, it is human nature and a knee-jerk reaction that we need to eliminate from our culture.
It is abundantly clear to me that bigotry does not always refer to race. Webster identifies it as stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own. That definition can refer to weight, hair color, sports alliances, politics, and even shoe size if you want to get ridiculous. Most would think of this as discrimination or just differences of opinion, not bigotry. No matter the definition, some people manage these ideologies with hatred; some with humor. Either way is unacceptable.
But I am talking about innocent humor, slapstick humor. I remember watching Saturday Night Live years ago and laughing so hard my sides ached. I have tried watching it recently and cannot find any humor in the skits whatsoever. Times change, I guess. New generations create cultures that are foreign to me.
Have you ever started laughing uncontrollably at a really inappropriate moment? My biggest laughter faux pax happened in Maine while watching my significant other re-landscape my three and a half acres. I do believe he was a pioneer settler reincarnate who refused to give in to modern technology.
I had a bottomless natural spring on my property boarded over by previous owners. He opened it, planted ferns and flowers, and designed a beautiful waterfall over large slate rocks drizzling down the hill to what we planned to be a pond someday. Close to this area, he discovered a gorgeous two-ton mossy quartz rock and was hell-bent to place it strategically on a walking path we were clearing through a thicket of white birch trees.
He unearthed the rock from atop the hill, but it landed at least fifty feet from where we wanted it. Using the laws of leverage and a path of small tree trunks he moved this massive rock inches at a time with only a tensioning tool (tag-along), straps, and brute strength. It was impressive to watch. Until it happened…
On one crank of the tag-along, he lost his grip. The power of the pull brought this 6-foot, 180-pound man completely horizontal to the ground about three feet high where he seemed to float for a split second. Then he fell – flat on his back. I was watching from my back porch and frantically ran to see if he was okay, but I could not stop laughing. Why in the world was this funny to me? It was like watching a Wile E. Coyote prank instead of a man potentially snapping his back. Incredibly, he was able to get up and laugh it off.
So, if an absurd, comic, or bizarre action causes our amusement, we just have to own what makes us laugh and apologize if it offends. If my thoughts do not make you at least smile, I can only hope you will find humor in my lack of comedic timing or my ability to insert foot A into mouth B. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
Share your thoughts! Click the word Comments below and tell me what you think!
5/18/2022 09:12:24 am
I have learned through years of teaching in various countries that humor is not only personal but culturally perceived. One instance reminded me while reading your words of my first summer teaching English in Taiwan. Pirates of the Caribbean had just arrived in the cinemas, so some of us teachers thought it would be fun to go see it. Of course, the movie is created to be funny and, in some places, silly. What caught my attention, as a linguist and instructor of sociolinguistics, was the deafening silence during Johnny Depp’s wisecracks. On top of that, there were instances when the movie goers laughed out loud during, what we would understand, serious dialogue. It was an enriching educational experience, and formed the new basis of careful use of humor in teaching English to the Sino-Asians.
5/21/2022 08:51:25 am
Wow. Thanks, Mike! What an observation lost on most of us. You have had such a phenomenal career! You add such an interesting perspective on everything!
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Jacque Jarrett Stratman