People (and yes, that means you) tell me that I write funny things. I was never really sure what that meant, but anyway. To give you a flavour of what they say and to establish my credentials I guess – here’s one of the comments on my blog from That Weird Brown Girl (thatweirdbrowngirl.wordpress.com): “You are funny! Not in the ‘he-gets-me-laughing’ kinda way, more like ‘he-gets-me-laughing-but-also-gets-me-thinking’ way.” So this, and the other 104 comment like it, got me wondering – what is humour all about?
Here’s what humour is all about:
- Secks. I read somewhere that some sounds are funny and some are not. For example, this is funny: ‘Killer queen guns gang and gets ging-gang-gooly going again.’ It seems that it is all about the guttural noises that the g and the k make in words. If you do find that sentence to be funny then please leave a comment – I can refer you to a very good shrink – and their rates are quite reasonable, considering. Yeah, considering how much commission I get paid for each referral. Oh, sorry – I forgot to explain the ‘secks’. Well, it’s the title for this section because it has a k in it, which automatically makes it funny. If you could see me now, staring at the screen, trying to think of something remotely funny about secks. Hmm. All I’m coming up with is condoms with little smiley faces drawn on the end in permanent marker. And you’re probably thinking ‘What! Are you trying to make her ovaries laugh?’ and I’m like, ‘No – it’d be waaay too dark in there for those ovaries to see anything’ and then ‘if you really want to make ovaries laugh you’d be better to make the condom say “boo” every time it reached the top of its, erm, arc – you know, like those birthday cards that play a song when you open them, except that this would be just “boo!”, you know?’ (And it was at this point that I realised that I could record this blog on Soundcloud so that you don’t have to read it all. You probably saw the link at the top.) Hmm – I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just fit a torch on the end of the condom. I mean – talking condoms – that’s not going to work, is it? Not really. Maybe I should do some market research. I could stand on a street corner, stop women and ask them ‘would you be more or less likely to buy a condom if it could talk to you?’ I wonder how long it would be before I got arrested.
- Threesomes. See if you can work out why the following is (supposed to be) funny: I watched a movie on my own last night and there were three things that I particularly liked about it. The first thing was that it had a lovely, mellow soundtrack – you know, like the kind of stuff you can not-listen-to while you’re reading because it doesn’t grab your attention with all those annoyingly addictive hooks and catchy lyrics that burrow into your ears like worms and then sing to you all day long no matter what you do. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about – earworms! Anyway, the second thing I liked about the movie was that it didn’t need me to actually think. I mean, there’s nothing worse than coming home from a hard day at the office and then having to work out the deep philosophical implications of humanity’s origins and why HAL really went bonkers. Are you with me? And the third great thing about this movie was that it didn’t complain when I fell asleep half way through. Did you get what was funny about that? Yes – correct – it was the third item in the list that was so out of joint with the other two that it prompted you to laugh out loud with delight and merriment – yay for you!
- Comparisons. I know, I know – to say this article is about comedy is stretching the vest a little (and you know it would have fitted fine if you hadn’t eaten those last three cream buns! Just because something is going to go off if you don’t eat it, does not make you into a garbage truck!). In fact, this article is about as funny as a call at three am telling you that you have won a year’s subscription to sleeping tablets. See – rubbish! Comparing as a route to humour is like trying to find metaphors that just happen to be funny. For example – select any subject – let’s say ‘writing an article’, then pick something you want to say about the subject – let’s choose ‘is easy’. Then finally, brainstorm a list of things that are really easy, and just decide on the funniest. Examples might be: ending a sentence with a full stop, or keeping cool in Alaska, or losing your sense of humour whilst trying to figure out what humour means. Then – bring it all together and you’ll have them laughing in the aisles (whatever that means!)
- Clichés. I think that this may well be the kind of sense of humour that I attempt. It involves starting off a sentence with something familiar and well-known, then ending it with something spaceship. As you just noticed – it doesn’t always work. The last part of the sentence still has to kind of fit in with the rest, in the same way that ‘spaceship’ did not. The final part has to be some kind of subtle twist on the expected ending, not something totally unrelated. Here’s an example. Hold on – I’m just trying to think of one as I type this sentence, but I won’t be able to because my multi-tasking only extends as far a breathing and eating at the same time, and even then I get mixed up sometimes and breathe in a lump of mashed potato resulting in a coughing fit of epic proportions. And judging by the amount of wind that comes out of my body, sometimes from both ends simultaneously, I can’t even stop myself from eating air! And after all of that, I still haven’t thought up a good example. In fact, I can’t actually remember what I’m supposed to be finding an example of. So I’ll stop and re-read. Hang on there a sec. Ah yes – re-routing clichés. Here’s one: That vegetarian magician I saw on TV last night (yeah, before the movie) was so good that he pulled a rabbit out of a cat! Yeah, okay, enough said.
- Anecdotes. This is all about telling funny little stories. They can either be real ones, or made-up ones – so long as they are a little bit funny. Oh, and they need to be kind of short too, otherwise they end up becoming shaggy dog stories, and that’s a whole different kettle of dog-biscuits. This is actually the other type of humour that I seem to use a lot. I make up stuff. I can think of at least 2 examples from the above – the stuff about talking condoms just about makes the cut, and the story about the movie I watched last night just about qualifies too. You want me to make up another one to illustrate further? No? Okay. Oh – I just noticed – this post clocks in at 1,163 words so far – wow! I have ridden your patience just about as far as it will take me, so let’s proceed to the closing statement and cheery farewell.
So there you have it – a detailed breakdown of how to make words funny.
I read somewhere that a lot of comedians are actually quite depressed in ‘real life’ and that they just put on a funny persona when they hit the stage. I used to think that they were depressed first and that they wrote and performed jokes just to try to cheer themselves up. I now know that this is not the case – it’s actually the other way around. It’s the process of writing jokes that makes a normally cheerful guy (or gal) into a miserable depressive.
I don’t really know why learning about how humour works is so drear-making, but I guess it has something to do with having a joke explained to you. It’s funny if you get the joke the first time around, but if someone has to spell it out for you, then that seems to suck all the humour right out of it.
Having said that – I’m all good. Life is funny enough on its own, without having to recourse to made-up humour. Plus – I learned loads by doing this, and I hope you did too.