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On the Nature of Funny (De Rerum Haha)
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This is NOT, don't worry, an attempt for you to reassure me that I'm funny, or that I have a sense of humor. It does worry me sometimes that people are falling all over themselves, while I'm sitting there with my finger up my nose (ok, FIGURATIVELY) going "huh?" It just seems to me that "funny" is THE hardest thing to get. Harder than the vagueness of "taste", or what's good. What's FUNNY is so individualized it surprises me that anyone survives as a humorist nowadays.

I'm a snob, I'm guessing because I sometimes take pleasure, of a sort in not liking what "everyone" likes. I try to tell myself it's cuz I have higher standards. When Stu watches/watched "Seinfeld" I could not get out of the room fast enough; I so despised that show, it still makes my cringe to hear any of the actors' voices form the living room. I've never watched "South Park" and never will. I tell myself it's cuz I'm a superior being, when of course, I have no clue why what's funny to millions of Americans leaves me cold. I encounter this in discussions of mystery fiction all the time; humorous mysteries, what are often seen as funny books leave me blinking with puzzlement. I don't get what's funny SO often. I once described my reaction to one book by saying that I thought I was "somewhat tone-deaf when it comes to satire and irony in fiction;" and how that bummed me out because I thought satire and irony required a kind of intelligence, or intellect I thought I had. But the book I was reviewing did so not make me laugh.

Recently, I was called on my lack of humor again over something that was intended to be ironic and oh, man, I didn't get it. Some of that could be because irony, when written, is often misinterpreted. But more to the point, whining is NOT funny to me, especially when coming from an adult. For maybe ONE line, whining can be amusing when it's broad; "Saturday Night Live" had "the Wieners" and for a second or 5, they were funny. Then they weren't. Okay, one note joke. We got it, move along, move along.

I remember years ago when I asked someone to be the Left Coast toastmaster and I got back an email asking "isn't the toastmaster supposed to be famous and funny?" Yeah, I replied. "But I'm not" said the person. And proceeded to write an email that was SO DAMN FUNNY I had to print it out and run into the living room and read it to Stu, who thought it was a riot. And yeah, I convinced Lia Matera to be our toastmaster. And treasured that exchange. Not that you can't know you're funny; of course you can. But that was extra funny to me; someone writing with wit and silliness how she's not funny.

Stu is funny. A lot. Now granted, we've had lots of time to perfect our routines with each other so he knows what works but still, he makes me giggle. It is extremely welcome because he can make me feel better like ZAP; he doesn't do it to "cheer me up" he just knows that when I'm feeling like crap, it doesn't take much to turn my attention. And I've developed quite a giggle around him.

Early Anne Lamott is funny; later is not. HARD LAUGHTER still makes me laugh as do many parts of JOE JONES. Keith Snyder makes me laugh every damn time I read one of his books because I adore Robert, and because Jason and his friends have quirky senses of humor which work within their friendship often. They see the world in a way that makes me laugh and they have shtick together and much of what they do/say is warm and caring. NOT whiny or snotty or making fun which is often what seems to me - superior being that I am - to be what passes for humor in much fiction. Making fun of someone's name, or weight, or lack of knowledge about something.

But then again, I'm the one walking around wearing a tee shirt that reads "Proud Paranoid Shiksa Feminista" which I think is hysterically funny. I imagine that is very telling.

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