Saturday, August 23, 2008

Getting Your Funny On

I've joined this thing called a Blog Chain. It's where a bunch of people write articles relating to the last person that posted, with links to the previous and future posters, mostly done to have fun but also to generate site traffic. (Which means more people will eventually make it to this site and get sucked into the abyss! muahahahahaha! And stuff.) This month's Blog Chain was started by colbymarshall over at AbsoluteWrite.

Seems the topic so far is comedy, or more generally, what people find entertaining. After reading and responding to the posts so far, I've decided to go all analytical on your arses. (Stay with me here, I promise I'll try not to be boring.)

Obviously everyone has a different opinion of what they find entertaining. Some people don't like crude jokes, some people have a preference for witty dialog as opposed to cheesy one liners, yet others avoid college humor and some people swear by dark humor. The reasons are as varied as the people, but I've generally come to one of two conclusions as to why there are dislikes for certain subjects.

1 -- Cultural / Religious / Family acceptance. We're raised to think certain things are or are not entertaining / funny. This one is a subconscious thing, and a lot of people don't realize it's an influence. Example: I was raised by my dad. The man has an impressive set of intestines, and would frequently blame his after dinner noises on "barking spiders." He never took them seriously, he was never embarrassed by them, and he knew how to laugh at himself. Even though I would obviously protest ("eww! Daaaaaad!") I grew up learning to be comfortable with myself and my bodily functions. I'm like a guy in a girl's body. I will high five someone who lets out an impressive fart, same as someone else who might high five a good belch. Even my sister, a normally conservative person, loves to laugh at anyone cutting the cheese. Do I think it's tasteless? Depends on the situation. Obviously it's not cool to let one rip at a nice restaurant, but at home? Why not? Though for some reason we as a species have been taught to be embarrassed by our bodily functions for hundreds (possibly thousands?) of years.

2 -- Execution. This is a big one. There are prejudices towards certain types of jokes, movies, even books because of the multitude of bad executions floating around in the entertainment industry. Think about it. Let's use books as an example. Romance Novels. See? Some of you just shuddered, and not in a good way. A lot of people refuse to read Romance Novels because the general stigma of a bad novel and things like "heaving breasts" still stick to the genre despite the abundance of excellent authors / books that exist there. (Also, there is a cultural influence here that tells us anything sexual is the work of the devil... which is funny, considering how much violence and other questionable things are readily accepted. But that's a topic for another day.) An example of good execution... well, look at the cat in that picture. I *know* a lot of you think that's unbelievably cute, even though it's making reference to poo. But, had I stuck in a clip of the World of Warcraft episode of South Park where Cartman's mom comes down and catches his exploding diarrhea, the number of people smiling would have plummeted in comparison. Yet both are poo jokes. See what I'm saying?

I could go on and on, but for now I want to get back to the other posters' questions.

What do I find funny?

Truth is, I'll watch just about anything if I'm in the mood for it. I appreciate intelligent humor, prefer it sometimes, but I also have the ability to appreciate crude humor, especially if it's executed well. Life in Scribbletown mentioned that she didn't understand why shows like Family Guy and South Park were funny. Believe it or not a lot of episodes from both are extremely intelligent, they simply use the crude element as a way to state their opinion and gain viewership (or in South Park's case, they do it purposely to offend). Don't get me wrong, both shows can sometimes miss the mark and sink right to stupid, but there are definitely elements worth watching. That said, I also enjoy shows like House and Arrested Development. Arrested Development is one of those shows you either get, and love, or you just don't understand why it's so funny. Some people don't get it and that's fine. Not everyone has to like the same thing.

Also, reality shows are so popular because we love drama. We just do. I think it's hardwired into us. And it would certainly explain the popularity of things like daytime soaps and I Love Money. They're like a car crash... you don't want to look, but you can't look away. Curse the human race for being ever curious and drama loving!

So, sticking to humor as a general topic... how many of you find LOLcats funny, and how many of you just don't get it? (I bet you can figure out where I fall in that one!)

Anyway, time for me to pass the torch. Go go Peregrinas!

Follow the chain with:

Spittin' (out words) Like a Llama started the chain on 08/14
Delirious continued it on 08/18
For the First Time followed up on 08/22
Life in Scribbletown tagged me on 08/23
A Blog, I Has One (this is the site you're on... if you need a link, I'm going to have to worry about you)
Peregrinas put her word in on 08/27
SouthAsiaFair quickly followed the same day
the mommy writer restarted the chain on 08/29
Return Engagement made an awesome funny a few short hours later
Neither Here nor There didn't post until 09/01
Polenth's Quill,
Emily Veinglory, and
Blog in a Suitcase have yet to post. Go go go!


colbymarshall said...

What a good explanation of why Family Guy and South Park are funny! I, too, think their humor is intelligent on a lot of levels because they make some really funny parodies, etc.

FreshHell said...

Farts are funny. Gross poo and vomiting are not. In my book. My biggest problem with Family Guy and South Park is mainly the animation style. I can't stand to look at either one. Which hampers my ability to watch more than the commercials.

Razib Ahmed said...

A very well written entry: perhaps the best in this blog chain so far. It is comforting for me to know that you are not that strict about belches. I agree with you that the way we are brought up has a lasting effect on our taste and choice for the rest of our adult life.

Carol Kabat said...

Barking spiders! My dad would always blame the dog. Yup, that poor pooch got saddled with every variety of gastric or intestinal distress. Only problem was that we didn't have a dog.

Polenth said...

I don't find jokes about bodily functions funny or offensive. They're just filler in whatever I'm watching. So there has to be more to a programme than those jokes. South Park has satirical stuff too, which I do find funny.