What’s so funny

Posted by @ 10:54 pm on January 30th, 2012

What makes you laugh? There was a book reviewed recently in the NYTimes that dealt with the science of revulsion; do you think there is a science to what ignites our different senses of humor? Do you think it could be chromosomal or is it strictly learned? Does anyone else feel sad or depressed when they watch Seinfeld? When Kramer enters a room and everyone laughs, doesn’t it just make you want to cry? Why don’t you find the same things funny as many of your friends? When a fat kid falls down and someone gets it on video and puts it on youtube, is that funny to you? How much of what we deem funny is enmeshed in some idea of power? Of (first) relief at not being the one laughed at, and then a growing delight in the privilege? Are we so lonely that when Kramer walks into the room we feel less alone and so we sigh with relief, the sigh which can be a kind of laughter? Or is Kramer walking into a room somehow “legitimately” (scientifically?) funny? Is slapstick funny to you? What is slapstick? Falling down? Is falling down funny when it’s on purpose? Are the Marx Brothers funny to you but not the Three Stooges, or are they they same? My parents are immigrants, sometimes I need help with American funny. When Ricky Gervais as David Brent insists he’s the world’s funniest and greatest boss, is this funny strictly because we know it’s untrue? This brand of comedy, when the sad-bastard-who-doesn’t-acknowledge-s/he’s-(mostly he on television it seems, no?)-sad makes (racist, etc.) hapless jokes, uses words incorrectly, postures, proselytizes, is this funny because it’s sad, or funny because it “emits laughter,” where laughter can be a bodily emission like drool or semen, uncontrollable under certain stimuli, the body’s response to emotional distress? Like when you accidentally laugh at a funeral? Are comedians funny when they describe something painful that we recognize all too well, so laughter then is a kind of agreement-soundrack, a noise, like a word, like the word yes, to acknowledge that we’ve been there or we get it? Can “liking” something on Facebook be a laughter surrogate? Are we nervous that other people won’t laugh, so we laugh, or nervous that other people won’t laugh, so we don’t laugh? Is the laughter of others a cue to laugh, or a cue that something is funny? Is there a history of laughter? Is there a history of clowns? A history of pies-in-the-face? Of the reasons why misfortune or “freakishness” are favorite realms for comedy? Is it the power thing, again? Or is it the human thing, the freak in me acknowledges the freak in you via the universal tongue of freak, which is the laugh, the chortle, the guffaw, the silent convulsive hysterics that from a distance look like crying?


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