Where are the roots of humor? Often, it’s in tragedy. American’s laugh at anything. Mostly. There are limits, stretched these days, as political correctness makes a comeback. What’s funny to you? A man slips on a banana peel, or “There once was a man from Natucket…?”
Humor is everywhere in American society, though we don’t always agree on what it is.
Wikipedia describes humor this way:
So, a sense of humor would be our ability to experience humor, though dependent on a number of absolute and relative variables.
Such as? Such as culture, age, education, maturity, context, geography, language, background, experiences.
Who’s funnier to you? Chris Rock or Lewis Black?
Who’s funnier to you? Jay Leno or David Letterman?
See? It depends. Taste is involved, though the variables above create a Maytag washer load of comedic colored clothes, vs. bleached whites.
What’s comedy (as opposed to humor)?
In the sctrictest sense, comedy is a use of humor in the form of theater; often a play with a happy ending, versus a play with a tragic ending; a tragedy.
Mel Brooks once said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an elevator shaft and you die.”
Question: What’s the difference between recession and depression?
Answer: A recession is where you’re out of a job. A depression is when I’m out of a job.”
Why is that funny (a broad assumption on my part)? Or not?
What are you watching on TV today that you consider truly funny?
Is it the satire cum slapstick of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?
Is it the baudy one liner assembly line of “Two and a Half Men?”
Is it the fictional reporting of FoxNews or the SpinCity superstars in DC, CNN’s “The Situation Room?”
All too often I find that what we consider comedy these days, has a root somewhere in tragedy, as if the extreme difference in feeling good versus being miserable, somehow tickles our collective funny bone (in some perverse way).
Pity the politician that makes it as comedic fodder for Leno or Letterman.