Humor — nectar of the gods. How boring would life be without regular guffaws, snickers, and tee-hees? It would be a horrible wasteland of the blase and I dare say I would not want to be a part of it. (Dare say!) Humor can heal, break the ice, and certainly make you a hit at parties.
I grew up on the TV comedy stylings of Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Tom Hanks in “Bosom Buddies,” and Robin Williams in “Mork and Mindy.” The stand-up comedians I listened to over and over were Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Cheech & Chong. (Yes, I grew up in the 1970s, the decade sandwiched between the hippies and yuppies. We were a confused generation as we were not labeled with a cute word ending in “ppies.”) I didn’t learn to appreciate the genius of their comedy until I was older. I just knew that, as a kid, they made me laugh out loud. (Ooh! Remind me to touch on “LOL” later.)
NOTE: Why is it that as a kid you could watch the same movie or TV show like a hundred times and still think it’s was as funny or as great as the first time you saw it? We wore out our Betamax copy of “Caddyshack.”
Dry and ironic humors are my faves, but I can also enjoy occasional slapstick now and again. (I’m a HUGE fan of British humor.) I especially love, love, love comedy that’s so smart it takes a second or two to “get it.” Then I’m like, “DOH! Score one for you, dude!” What I particularly don’t like is cornball humor. Puns can be cornball, but if delivered with the correct air of dryness can also be funny.
I don’t do jokes. I can’t tell them. I don’t want to hear them. They’re usually corny. I am just not a joke person. I know that stand-up comedians deliver “jokes,” but they’re told as if the comedian is making them up right there on stage. (It’s called “magic.”) I don’t like jokes because there’s so much pressure! What if I don’t get it? What if it’s told wrong and then I have to feel sorry for the teller? What if it’s just a stupid joke and I have to feign laughter? There’s just too much damn emotional commitment with a joke. I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about it.
I do like storytelling humor, like Kathy Griffin’s. She definitely pushes the limit … and I like that. Amy Schumer is totally on the fringes of decency and has a killer delivery. One of my favorite storyteller comedians, or comediennes, is Kathleen Madigan. Her humor is so dry it’s arid. You’ll need to rehydrate after watching one of her shows. If you get Neflix, you need to stream her new stand-up special. If you’re a joke-telling humorist, move on.
Adding four-lettered language to jokes doesn’t always make them funny. The gratuitous F-bomb can fall flat, so be aware. The properly placed “word enhancers,” what SpongeBob and Patrick call cuss words, can enhance a joke’s effect if delivered correctly. Just don’t overuse them because then … you just sound like a sailor.
Limericks are fun.
Okay. “LOL.” I think too many people are using it incorrectly. Isn’t it supposed to be a response to something someone else wrote to let them know you’re laughing out loud? But what I see instead are people using it in their own writings implying they think what they wrote is funny. It’s like saying, “Aren’t I funny as hell? (This is your cue to laugh.)” But that’s all wrong. It’s kind of presumptuous, if you ask me, and a BIG comedy mistake. Key to good comedy is not laughing at your own humor. Straight-faced and unaffected is the best way to go. It takes practice, but you can do it.
I will end with a form of comedy used by my family and most of my friends … sarcasm. I’m not referring to sarcasm as a means of hurting people or bringing down nations. I’m talking about the kind of wit that is delivered dry and followed with an implied wink. It’s also known as ironic humor, such as: “I know that there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that!.” (Tom Lehrer) Did that hurt your feelings? If so, then you don’t understand sarcastic wit. And that’s okay. You probably don’t get “Far Side” either. That’s not okay. [implied *wink* inserted here]. LOL.