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Unfunny



Humor is an interesting concept. It would seem to exist only within the realm of human consciousness (ever seen a dog, or a cat, or a canary laugh?), and yet it is extremely diversified among people. Humor often derives itself from pain, from a shared point of reference, from common culture, identity, etc. A lot of people can agree on what is funny, but then many are splintered by what doesn't make them laugh. That's what I'm here to talk about today: what leaves me cold, and why.

A couple of years ago, some friends invited me to go with them to see comedienne Lisa Lampanelli. I politely declined. You see, dear reader, Ms. Lampanelli is one of those whom I find unfunny. Her schtick (if one dare call it that) is to hurl insults. At everyone. She has been dubbed the "Queen of Mean." Sorry, but that just isn't my cup of tea.

Robin Williams is another one that I don't 'get.' When he's playing a serious role in a film (Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, to name a few), he's excellent, and often underrated. But his comedy? It makes me want to gauge my eyes out.  I don't go in for the manic, spastic, shouty person running around like a chicken with their head cut off routine.

What of Jay Leno? Seriously... what of him? How someone so bland that they're in danger of blending into the scenery of their talk show set has remained the king of late night TV for two decades is beyond me. Maybe folks just like a big, chuckling chin that comes across affable and tells lame, relatively safe jokes. I dunno. Regardless, Mr. Leno's brand of humor has never appealed to me.

Of course, some of the stuff I find to be hilarious falls flat with others. Take the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers as an example. Wonderfully structured slapstick humor, peppered with tons of witty dialogue. It remains fresh to this day, some thirty years on. Yet, I remember gleefully showing on episode to a friend once, whose face remained scrunched in dislike the entire time, until he finally let loose a tirade against the program of "people constantly shouting at each another."

To each their own, I suppose.


Comments

  1. To paraphrase Edmund Gwenn:

    Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with, "To each their own." Humor is so completely subjective. The 'you had to be there' moments are a good example. Even an accurate retelling of the moment isn't nearly as humorous as the initial event.

    Humor quite often fails in translation. It doesn't cross language or cultural barriers very easily. That may be one of the problems with people like Lisa Lampanelli. In my cultural circles, that sort of thing really isn't "funny." The same goes for Andrew Dice Clay. Being a misogynist asshole doesn't register big belly laughs with me for some reason.

    I've never found Jay Leno more than slightly amusing at times. I'd much rather listen to him talk about his antique cars. At least then it seems he has some passion.

    I love 'Fawlty Towers', as well as most of the Python members' work. A lot of people, though, particularly in the US, don't find British humor very humorous.

    Robin Williams is one that I've always enjoyed, though I admit to not really seeing any of his stage comedy for more than twenty-five years.

    One of the areas of humor that I especially enjoy: cancer jokes. They seem to take some people completely off guard for some reason.

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