Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's So Funny?

I am a big fan of laughter. I love to laugh and so does Sandi. At the same time laughter baffles me. It is so personal it can't be quantified. I don't see the humor in things that others may find hysterical. We seem to surround ourselves with friends who have a similar sense of humor, and could be one of greatest connections to developing a friendship. In the rock and roll days of the 80's when Comedy Clubs were ubiquitous it was a great vehicle for dating. If two people laughed at the same things it was a good indication that there were legs to the relationship.  I often wonder how services like and other dating sites manage to determine a humor quotient with a written profile. 
So how can you determine a persons humor quotient besides observing the actual experience of laughter? There are certain social factors and lifestyles that might indicate a certain propensity for a certain kind of humor but only in a general sense. I am not a NASCAR fan and don't know anything about it. I would not be educated enough on the subtleties of the sport to understand the subtleties of jokes about it. It is like a different  language. Humor is always the last comprehension one comes to when learning a new language. 
When writing jokes for a corporate show if I can find out enough about their business I can find a joke that will only be funny to them. It is the relationship of timing, language and understanding. Every comic knows that the most important of the three is timing. 
Telling a joke the right way is the same as telling a story. You don't start with the surprise ending of the story, and you don't start with the punch line of a joke. It is the biggest rookie mistake. Since most people remember the punch line of a joke because it evokes the laugh, they will identify the joke by the punchline. How many times has this happened to a comic, "Hey Sheckie, tell that joke where the Nun says 'same as downtown'."
There is no way to get a laugh if they know where you are going.
I guess because it is such a personal and diverse phenomena humor will never be 100% the same for everyone. You can't make everyone laugh every time. Comics "go for it" hoping that the majority will see the joke knowing that some will be not laugh and others may be offended. But to be a comic, comedian, clown or humorist you have to take the risk.  The world is only changed by risk takers, you can't homogenize a joke so much that no one finds it funny. I am not advocating humor at any cost is a good thing. No one should use humor as a weapon or vehicle to bully. Getting a laugh by belittling some one or some group is wrong on a lot of levels, but if there are human qualities every one can laugh *with*, it is cathartic and enlightening. It helps us look at our failings in a gentle way. It lets us know that we have not yet reached perfection and shows us a path for improvement. If everyone is laughing and I'm not perhaps I am taking myself to seriously, at least it is worth a glance inward.
This process is important a mental level, but the very act of laughter is biologically curative. It clears out your lungs, oxygenates your blood, and exercises your core.  It is the easiest form of exercise you can do for yourself. Laugh it up some how today.
As you were,

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