Why do I do it? Why do I laugh at things I shouldn't?
For instance, when someone from Howard Stern's "whack
pack", his personal collection of mentally challenged
misfits with various speech impediments, talks about
anything? How about when Andrew "Dice" Clay profanely
rants about females in ways that set women (and men
for that matter) back a thousand years? What about
one of the most politically incorrect shows on cable
TV today, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I laugh my butt off
every time Larry David pathetically wrestles with
race or sexuality or death or handicaps. And I can't
leave out Chris Rock cursing his way through a monologue
about the plight of fathers whose daughters are strippers.
I might just as well laugh at a train wrecks. And
I do-not at real train wrecks-but at comedy train
I used to think "you either get it or you don't".
But I'm not so sure anymore. When I crack up and cough
up a lung because a ten year old girl thinks Larry
David, whom she encounters in a ladies restroom, has
a giant erection, am I being blindly insensitive to
child molestation? When I chuckle at a really mean-spirited
racial slur Imus's sidekick bigot, Bernard, blurts
out, am I promoting hate and fear? I'd like to think
I'm laughing at his ignorance but I'm not positive.
I'm not completely without scruples. I laugh just
as hard at some of the all time great "clean" comics:
Bill Cosby, Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld, Flip Wilson,
Steve Martin. I think Napoleon Dynamite might just
be the funniest movie I have ever seen and it was
clean. I even laugh at myself a lot. I'm almost always
self entertained by my own stupidity; like the time
I was cutting down some brush with a dull hand-held
sickle, disturbed a bee hive and chopped a yellow
jacket in half that was stinging my left forearm with
the sickle, of course leaving a three inch cut in
my arm for the effort. Or the time I locked my newborn
son and keys in the car in sub-freezing weather the
first day I was allowed to watch him on my own. Even
my short stories about growing up in the Sixties generate
laughs at my personal reputation's expense, what little
I have that is.
It's not like a want to laugh at the cost of others'
pain. Well, that's not completely true. I do laugh
at people who slip on ice or walk into glass doors.
But only after I'm sure they are okay. I guess nothing
tickles me more than a hair piece folded back or a
booger flapping free in the nostril of the unaware.
It's almost a knee jerk reaction. I don't know, I
just can't help it. I'll say this, I'm not proud of
it sometimes, if that helps at all.
I guess it's like music. You know how some people
say, "oh, I like all kinds of music: rap, country,
pop, punk, Manalow, System of a Down, Mozart"? Well
that's how I feel about humor. I like all kinds: stand
up, sit coms, ad lib, filthy, clean, sight gags, accidents.
However, there are some types I don't like, making
me a tad more complicated than a total ignoramus.
I don't like ethnic stuff, like "dumb Pollock" or
"drunk Irishman" jokes. They seem to me to maintain
cultural myths that cloak an underlying bigotry, a
position that those who love such jokes disdainfully
tag as politically correct. And how about those jokes
about people with no arms and legs-wassup with that?
I'm not a fan of elephant jokes either-I just don't
get them. Hmm … I guess there is such a thing as "getting
it or not".
Unfortunately, I have that dark side though; like
that classic bit by Kinison about what goes on in
the mind of a dead man being raped by the mortician's
sick assistant. Now that was funny but in an ashamed-of-myself
way. I know it's wrong. I even scream, 'oh that's
so wrong' as I bellow in doubled-over hysteria.
So why then do I laugh? Well, probably because I
think it's funny … dah. And why do I find this stuff
funny? Maybe in the case of Clay or Rock, it's the
shock. Maybe in the case of Martin or Regan, it's
the delivery. Maybe in the case of Seinfeld or David,
it's the predictability that there is humor in the
most odd scenarios. Maybe in the case of Winters or
Williams, it is the unpredicatability of the ad lib.
Maybe I simply have a defective brain stem. Whatever
the reason, I'd rather be this way then never laugh
at all, you know, like dentists and Dick Cheney.
[I know, you probably don't like cheap dentist and
obligatory Cheney jokes.]
This article was written by humorist Robert Crane.
Please visit his popular website for more the same
and plenty of surprises.
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