Day: March 27, 2009

Things I Think are Funny

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.  ~Francis Bacon

I decided to do a lighter post this time.  My posts of late have been a bit serious.  I have had a great deal on my mind, and so many issues  I feel passionate about. I want to get my voice out and try to make a difference. I am very gratified for the responses to these entries. My blog posting on Glen Beck alone has already had over 400 visits.  My Affluenza posting 250. The stimulus package over 300.  Visits to my blog have increased from 1900 to 3100 in the month of March alone.  I know it is still small in the world of blogs, but it makes me feel good.  Thanks for reading and making comments!

For this post I am writing about the things that make me laugh.  It is such a hard thing to quantify.  I have had so many times when I think something is hilarious but when I show it to friends I get nothing but a courtesy laugh.  I’ve also been in the reverse situation where I am the only one in the room not laughing.  For instance, I do not think Weird Al is funny.  One time in college everyone was watching him, cracking up and I didn’t laugh once.

Given the subjectivity of humor I will try to describe what makes me laugh.

Let’s start with stand up…

My favorite routines are from Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Ray Romano.  All 3 of them take ordinary situations and bring out the insanity.  I love to make mix CDs of these routines and play them on long car trips.  On one such trip my cousin Ellen was in the car.  She was 8 or 9 and we laughed and laughed.  My aunt Cindy told me when they got home that she asked for more comedy CDs and said “I am addicted to comedy!”.  My thoughts exactly!

My favorite routine of all time is probably the Dentist by Bill Cosby.  I hate going to the dentist, and he captures the experience perfectly.  I particularly love the way he mimics the sound of a dentist working on your teeth. I’ve heard this probably a hundred times and it still leaves me in stitches:

Next we have animated humor…

For some odd reason there is a group of mothers in Utah that think the Simpsons is some evil show.  I grew up with it.  It has been on the air since I was 8 years old, and from about 1994-2000 it made me laugh every week. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Simpsons because it was one of the only things I remember doing with my brother every week where we laughed.  Picking a favorite Simpsons episode is tough- I have all 11 seasons currently available on DVD.  There are so many good ones.  Some of my favorites are the Frank Grimes episode (Homer’s Enemy), King Size Homer (Homer gains weight to get on workman’s comp), Bart the Mother (Bart becomes the mother of a nest of birds that leads to complicated problems), Homer the Great (Homer is made head of the “Stonecutters” a mason like group), and the Monorail episode (where the town is conned by a Harold Hill-like monorail salesman voiced by Phil Hartman). There are plenty of Simpson’s haters out there but let me just say in its defense- it is about a family that always makes up, they pray together, they go to church and they make fun of everyone equally.  It has been making me laugh for 20 years and will continue to do so until 2012! Hurray!

Here is a clip from the monorail episode:

Moving on to sitcom television…

Since television is weekly its humor can be based more on the chemistry of the stars than on the material itself.  There may be jokes that fans of the show love but those unfamiliar with the characters don’t understand.  For example, on the Office many of the jokes made by Michael Scott are funny because we know the character and understand his wacky perspective.   Arrested Development is another show that those unfamiliar with the characters will probably not grasp most of the humor.  The sitcoms that make me laugh the hardest are probably the Office, Cosby Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and the Nanny.  Seinfeld can be very funny but it is more hit and miss to me.  Also, My Name is Earl was great in the first two seasons but has gone down hill since then.

I want to have a clip but a lot of my favorite episodes are not available online.  For instance, one of the funniest moments on television is from The Mary Tyler Moore episode Chuckles Bites the Dust.  The plot is about the TV station’s clown Chuckles who dies from being stomped on by an elephant after wearing a peanut outfit in a parade.  Because of the odd death of the clown everyone at the newsroom laughs and cracks jokes except Mary.  She stays serious until the funeral.  While listening to the eulogy Mary gets the giggles and everyone can’t believe her rudeness.  The more she tries to hold it in the worse it is.  Here is the eulogy that gets her going:

“Chuckles the Clown brought pleasure to millions. The characters he created will be remembered by children and adults alike: Peter Peanut, Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo, Billy Banana, and my particular favorite, Aunt Yoo Hoo. And not just for the laughter they provided—there was always some deeper meaning to whatever Chuckles did. Remember Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo’s little catch phrase? Remember how, when his arch rival Señor Caboom hit him with a giant cucumber and knocked him down, Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo would always pick himself up, dust himself off, and say, ‘I hurt my foo-foo’? Life’s a lot like that. From time to time we all fall down and hurt our foo-foos. If only we could deal with it as simply and bravely and honestly as Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo. And what did Chuckles ask in return? Not much. In his own words, ‘A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.'”

I have had many times when I get the giggles and am about to pee my pants with laughing.  One time on my mission this lady started playing the piano super loud, in a rather vitriolic fashion- so much so that it made our cute little Chinese investigator jump about a foot in the air.  For some reason it made me start to laugh and finally I had to grab my companion and leave to the restroom.  Doesn’t everyone have those moments?  That’s what makes the episode so relatable.

Another show that makes me laugh is How I Met Your Mother.  It is probably my favorite comedy on TV right now (the Office has become more hit and miss lately).  One of my favorite episodes is called Spoiler Alert.  It is all about how friends have annoying habits that we ignore because they are our friends; however, once these habits are pointed out to us they drive us crazy!  Have you ever experienced this?   Here is one example from the episode:

One last category- the sketch comedy show…

The sketch comedy show has a style all its own.  Unlike the sitcom, the jokes are not based on long-term character development, nor are they as deadpan as stand up.  They are based on short-term character development and scenarios built to prove one singular point.  Of all of the categories the sketch comedy skit is perhaps the most subjective.  For example, my sister and brother in-law do not find Will Farrell funny.  I think he is hilarious most of the time.  I have met people that hate Chris Farley- others that love him.  Again, most of the ones I find funny are because I relate to them in some small way.  I’ve never found Chris Rock to be very funny but others disagree.  Adam Sandler is more hit and miss.  Monty Python kind of invented the genre and to me this routine is just about perfect:

Anyone who has had an uncle or aunt wailing about “kids today…” can relate to that!

So, that is some of the things that make me laugh.  I would go into movies but that becomes even more subjective.  I will have to do a separate entry just on funny movies.  There are certain movies like Clueless, You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Stranger that Fiction,  and Office Space that I could  write entire posts on- one of them I have.  They are hilarious!

I hope this post made you laugh!  There are so many problems right now it feels good to have a good laugh!