I Can Has Funny? What Makes Me Laugh

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt dares to ask me if I think I’m funny, if I’m here to amuse you, and what I find so damn funny anyway.

Get it? Get it? I’m trying to quote The Godfather! Or is it Goodfellas? I’ve never seen either movie.

As much as I’d like to be, I’m not the funny one in the group. I do occasionally get out some zingers, and I’d like to think I’m funny, but half the time people don’t get my jokes.

It’s possible (likely?) I’m wrong about how others perceive me, but I know I don’t always come up with the funny response.

My husband Alex is very funny, frequently thinking of quick, witty quips that don’t occur to me. I wish they did. I love those rare moments when I can make him laugh. I’ll frequently steal his jokes from him, but that’s because he often says them to me alone and not to the group. I want them to hear how funny he is, so I’ll repeat it. But I usually give him credit for it, because I am not a crook (she says, waving peace signs).

That’s an example of my sense of humor: I make references to other things, and I love jokes that quote from or reference things I know. I especially love to laugh at things that I think other people may not get. I laugh extra loud then, so that other people know I’m a member of the club.

I’d like to work on being funny—that sounds odd…work at being funny—yet I know it’s a skill. Alex sweetly got me The Comedy Bible for Christmas last year, but I haven’t done anything with it yet.

I am sometimes able to make people other than Alex laugh, sometimes when I don’t mean to. They’re often jokes that arrive out of the moment, and rarely things that I could tweet or tell to other people, because without context, they just don’t work. I also tend to be one of those frustrating people who either repeat myself, or say something akin to, “d’jy get it?” after telling the joke, instead of just letting it lie. That’s the quickest way to kill a joke.

It’s funny—good thing that’s what we’re talking about—but I sometimes find puns funny. Ironically (or is it coincidentally?), a friend of mine long ago used to make punny jokes all the time, and they drove me crazy. Some are total groaners, but many are really clever. Somewhere along the line, I apparently warmed up to it enough that I like them too.

For example, one of my favorite set of jokes are the following one-liners, in rapid succession:

What do you call a deer with no eyes?

No eye deer.

What do you call a deer with no legs and no eyes?

Still no eye deer.

What do you call a castrated deer with no legs and no eyes?

Still no f—ing eye deer.

Sorry, that last one got a little dirty.

I also like to take things literally. I like to point out how odd a phrase would be if it were taken literally, or visualized. I like to point out the obvious, especially if it isn’t obvious to everyone.

I also usually tell these two jokes right behind the deer ones, as part of the same rapid succession:

What do you call a pig with three eyes?

Piiig.

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

Fshhhh.

With that last one, I mostly just love to say fssshhhh.

I’m really not sure this translates as well on paper as in real life.

Maybe I should make a video of it. That could be fun!

Here’s another one of my favorite jokes (also a little dirty):

A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel down his pants.

The bartender asks him, “Why do you have a steering wheel down your pants?”

The pirate says:

“Arrgh, it’s drivin’ me nuts!”

I’m actually not sure if that is an example of a literal joke or not. But I still think it’s funny.

I studied musical theatre in college, and we had a lesson once about the different kinds of humor that exist. It was a great class, with really interesting, useful information. So naturally I remember almost none of it.

I’m not even sure I can explain what this was… a list of the different kinds of jokes or humorous situations there are, with one or two word headings for each item, and they all had an example from musical theatre. Exaggeration was one of them, but I can’t remember the example that went with it. Minimization was also one, though I don’t think that’s what it was called. The example for that was from the musical Wonderful Town: at a particularly awkward dinner party, the smart sister Eileen tries to explain the plot of Moby Dick by saying, “It’s about this whale.”

I think that’s what I remember most from that entire class: It’s about this whale.

See? Another reference.

It was such a great list because it so succinctly explained everything, with perfect examples tailored to my musical theatre tastes. I’ve tried to search for it since then, but I’ve not found it exactly. I did find this post of six essential ingredients to humor, and clearly there’s some overlap with that list from college, but it’s not the same thing. For one, I don’t find everything in this post funny, and some of it seems to apply to the delivery, not the construction. Or I just don’t get it.

I do wonder, as I learn more about feminism and racism and the ways people interact with each other, whether I might be losing my sense of humor. But I don’t think so. I definitely hate humor that tries to be funny at the expense of other people, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being sensitive to jokes that are cruel or that poke fun at others. I can certainly laugh at myself (though I’m trying to do that less), but that’s very different from laughing at someone else.

How about you? Do you consider yourself the funny one? What do you find funny?

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