January 30th, 2012 / 10:54 pm
Blind Items & Random

What’s so funny

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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  1. Anonymous

      This is the best. There is science behind it, even if it’s mostly “soft-science” (like, sociological research on humor, info needs re comedy, etc.). 

      While reading this, I thought, ell oh ell, w/out actually laughing. 

  2. Anonymous

      The basis of comedy is incongruity. When something happens that is not supposed to happen, it is funny.

      Based on that, I think the reason we find people falling so funny is because people are not supposed to fall. That’s why we laugh at our dog losing its footing as much as we do a person doing the same thing. I think the concept of power being involved in comedy is perverting comedy. Babies have no desire for power but can find it funny if a person falls, right?

      Ricky Gervais is funny because he’s too stupid to realize he’s stupid. He’s not sad. Not in a comedic lens, at least. In a comedic lens he’s an idiot. Sad people aren’t funny unless their sadness is incongruous to what they are sad about. See Will Ferrell in a phonebooth weeping loudly about his stupid little dog that got punted into a bridge, even though watching the dog being punted off the bridge it was obvious that it was not a real dog, making his overreaction even funnier.

      I think misfortune is so successful because it’s not fair, and unfair is not what we are conditioned to expect out of life (an issue which is a whole other sack of bananas!). When Frank Grimes gets demoted and dies and is forgotten on The Simpsons it is fucking hilarious because it is the opposite of what should happen to Frank Grimes.

      Idunno. Watching interviews with the best comedians, they never seem to think too much about why something is funny.

  3. Trey

      what do you think is funny Kristen?

  4. A D Jameson

      Funny, I just watched every episode of Seinfeld.

  5. Anonymous
  6. Evan Hatch

      benign violation theory seems the most elegantly simplistic and universally verisimilar of all the feeble explanations humans have for humor

  7. Anonymous

      Sentences like this creep me the fuck out. I’m glad I don’t have to know you.

  8. MacEvoy DeMarest
  9. Jason Scott

      Humor is very subjective to the individual.  I remember laughing uncontrollably when I saw the movie liar liar (during the scene where rips the toupee off the guys head) but after watching the movie over 10 years later, I didn’t find it as humorous.  Its not that it isn’t funny anymore, It still is.  It just its funny to a different person.

  10. mimi
  11. mimi

      got ‘manslaughter’?  

      well then you’ve also got:  

      largest human  
      menstrual hag  
      hula garments  
      gunmetal rash  
      ashram gluten  
      a hamster lung  
      a strangle hum  
      la hanger smut    
      maternal hugs, maternal gush (take your pick)  
      math granules  
      uh, mangle rats, mangle arts, mangle tsar, mangle star  

      the list goes on and on . . .   

  12. Anonymous

      It’s funny cause it’s true!

  13. Kristen Iskandrian

      evelyn waugh

  14. deadgod

      Rote, proudly uncomprehending theatrics creep me the fuck out.  I’m glad to be reminded that failed clowns howl at long words.