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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Life's funny that way...

Pay Attention. Your personal humor IQ test follows.

In his scholarly book (yes, scholarly, thus by definition, unfunny) Sex, Aggression and Humour: Responses to Unicycling, Sam Shuster tries to dissect what makes us laugh by age and gender. So take your average unicyclist and look at all the ways this is seen... with no mention of a pie in the face at any time. For example:

A father to son about 3 years old. "Look, he's only got one wheels... wonder what happened to the other wheel.
Inquisitive 5 to 12 year old: "Why do you use only one wheel?"
Aggressive boys: "You're gonna to fall off... you're gonna fall off."
Women: "Wonderful... I'm impressed."
 Men: "Lost your wheel?"
etc., etc.

Shuster did identify something... that defining humour (as he spells it) and what may make us laugh is a varied and complex thing.

Plato, Aristotle and Descartes also had very unfunny takes on it and Freud felt forbidden things are hilarious because humor is a pressure release for psychic energy.

But in the end, what is funny to one very likely is not funny to most... one size does not fit all.

Incongruity seems to be a more-common-to-all humor thing and incongruity itself adds another variable to the mix... unless it is followed on social media by lol, then it is funny... or we just didn't get it.


Read these short paragraphs from an actual newspaper contest where entrants, age 4 to 15,  were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey, a former Saturday Night Live writer of years back and tell me you didn't laugh or smile more than once.

I gaze at the brilliant full moon. The same one, I think to myself, at which Socrates, Aristotle and Plato gazed. Suddenly, I imagine they appear beside me. I tell Socrates about the national debate over one's right to die and wonder at the constancy of the human condition. I tell Plato that I live in the country that has come the closest to Utopia and I show him a copy of the Constitution. I tell Aristotle that we have found many more than the four  basic elements and I show him a periodic table. I get a box of kitchen matches and strike one. They gasp with wonder. We spend the rest of the night lighting farts. (Age 15)

Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. (Age 13)

I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween. (Age 13)

For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. (Age 6)

I once heard the voice of God. He said "Vroommm." Unless it was just a lawn mower. (Age l1)

If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started. (Age 15)

It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the presidents' birthdays, like they do for the queen's. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3rd or December 26th, just for the long weekends. (Age 8)

Answer key: If you laughed or smiled at some of these, you probably passed and are "life-ready." If you didn't, then be an actuary. (Oops, sorry all my actuary friends, I meant be an accountant.)

You know, I want these kids in my world because if you can't see humor, it's a tougher life for you and those you touch.

As the real Jack Haney explains, "Maybe to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: 'Mankind.' Basically, it's made up of two separate words, mank and ind. What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."

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