What is funny?

Humor is different for everyone. It depends on your background, your education, and your tolerance. Some people like fart and poo jokes. According to a comedian I heard on our local 24/7 Comedy Radio Station, it’s most men and not women.

Some like cruelty humor. A current popular comedian is in hot water for making a rape joke and, when a woman in the audience objected, suggesting 5 male audience members gang rape her. She fled the show in terror. Many of the men thought it funny. The women, not so much.

Some like putdowns against ethnic or national groups. Who hasn’t heard a Polish joke? Of course, I’ve heard most of the Polish jokes rewritten as Aggie jokes, having gotten my degree from Texas A&M University. Jokes against Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Canadians, and many more have been heard by me on the radio in the last week.

Then there is teasing people for their looks. I’ve heard fat jokes and midget jokes. Most of those are quite mean. So are the ones about amputees.

I’ve even heard jokes about red-haired people, but it was a red-haired person telling them and I honestly thought they were hilarious. I’m going to share two of my favorites. They stemmed from his premise that red-haired people are the “true minority.” The first was pointing out that if you get on a train filled with one ethnicity or race, such as Latino or Black, no one thinks anything of it, but if you got on a train in the U.S. and everyone on it had red hair, it would give you pause. The second was the theory that red-haired people never date one another. (This is not true because I have some good friends who both have red hair, got married, and had red-haired children, strengthening that gene for further generations.) Here’s why he says they don’t date: If you pass two Asians, two Indians, two Latinos (one of each gender, of similar age) walking together on the street, you might think they were dating. Two red-haired people in a similar circumstance? “Oh, you must be brother and sister.”

The comedy team of Penn and Teller made a guest appearance on the TV show Babylon 5. I was much amused when they discussed comedy with the Captain, pointing out that most human comedy was based on cruelty (like laughing at someone after a chair was pulled out from under them). Other races were not the same. The Minbari preferred wordplay. They then proceeded to tell a joke to Delenn that made her laugh hard. In my head, I was saying, “Oh, my! The Minbari love puns!”

I know it is said that puns are the lowest form of humor, but they are particularly enjoyed by my family and my friends. You have to be well read to get them and I think that’s part of the fun. My former roommate, Ed Tatom, was a grand master, and there were days when the puns flew fast and deep in our home or at gaming. The day he joined the D&D game at my husband’s and my house and announced his character name as “Dexter the Sinister” to a room half-filled with heralds was definitely banner moment.

I’m out of time to write, and I’m not sure I have much more than a point than this: yes, comedians have the right to say anything they want. But why would you want to say something hurtful and call it humor?

About Susan

I am a woman of strong opinion. You can listen or not, but I expect everyone to play nice and respect everyone else's right to have their own opinions. I was never much of a diarist, and I plan for this to be less about my life and more about my observations and information sharing. So let's not call this a "blog," which is a word I find a bit repellent.
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2 Responses to What is funny?

  1. Kong says:

    Darlin’, you knew that from the first time you read Stranger in a Strange Land. That’s how Valentine Michael Smith discovers he understands the human race. Man is the animal that laughs. Can you think of a joke (not pun) that DOESN’T hurt someone else?

  2. Susan says:

    A man walks into a bar and orders whiskey and a beer. The bartender gives it to him. The man drinks the beer and pours the whiskey in his pocket.

    He orders another round. He drinks the beer and pours the whiskey in his pocket.

    As he orders the third round, the bartender says, “I have to ask, why do you drink the beer and pour the whiskey in your pocket?

    The man says, “You want we should fight about it?

    The mouse pops out of his pocket and says, “That goes for your cat, too!”

    [It has a touch of violence implied, but it doesn’t attack any group. What do you think, Kong? Meet your criteria?]

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