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Thursday, August 03, 2006

humour discussed once more

I think about humour a lot, and sometimes wonder how far back it goes. Who came up with the first joke? The first one-liner? I imagine that right from the beginning (however you envision the beginning) humour played a big part in helping humans deal with daily foibles. This leads me to think that God (again, however envisioned) must be quite funny in their own right if you accept the idea that he created us in her likeness. Moreover, if humour is part of our genetic makeup, as I suspect it is, is there an actual humour gene? And is this gene present in other species as well?

Humour itself though is a tricky business, as what's funny to one person can be completely offensive to another. And while in my opinion almost anything and everything can be funny if presented tastefully, I suppose taste (or the need for it) is a matter of individual judgement as well. And can humour be taught? I've seen ads for workshops on how to write humorously, and while I believe that you can teach someone how to write better, I'm not convinced you can teach someone how to write funnier. Like Mark Twain's quote, "Humor is like a frog; if you dissect it, it dies." I don't quite see how breaking down the components of humour will make you funny if inherently you're not. If you haven't already honed your natural sense of timing, surprise, irony, and other elements of humour, I'm not sure a workshop would be of much help. And I certainly wouldn't be willing to pay close to $300 just to find out!

Have you noticed though that one of the worst things you can say to someone is that they DON'T have a sense of humour? Try this sometime and see how quickly they bristle at the mere suggestion. Humour is one of the main things we look for in potential friends and mates, almost as if as long as someone can make us laugh, we're willing to forgive or forego a number of other things. Well, at least I do.

And I guess if you're going to talk about humour you have to recognize its myriad variety. Now I personally prefer humour that involves wordplay, or the linking of previously unconnected things, while practical jokes and slapstick tends to leave me cold. I also find that the more truthful the humour, and the easier it is for me to relate to personally, the funnier it seems.

A follow-up from my brother:


As a follow-up on the health of our new baby boy, a blood test (e-test) revealed a slight deficiency which (thanks to Dr. Ford Forbes and co.) could be corrected by replacing an emission sensor. (A subsequent test showed no anomalies and our fears have subsided).

Tomorrow Dr. Bill Claussen [local mechanic] will check out our baby to determine it's physical health and provide us with the necessary information to guide it into its adulthood.


Blogger country dweller said...

My favourite book on the subject is Henri Bergson’s “Laughter” (1909). He sets off from the Jack-in-the-box situation. Why is it funny? Max Beerbohn wrote in a review of the book in Revue de Paris: “M. Bergson, in his well-known essay on this theme [of laughter] says...well, he says many things; but none of these, though I have just read them, do I clearly remember, nor am I sure that in the act of reading I understood any of them” (p.308). A most cautious, opening reservation, you could say, for which sad state of affairs Max Beerbohn—of course—humbly shares the blame. I agree. The book is not as funny as the review, to say the least, but it’s very interesting in a French sort of way. That’s already three kinds of fun: Jack, Max and the French.

August 08, 2006 4:06 p.m.

Blogger KJ's muse said...

Thanks for the recommendation! My library has a copy, so I'll be sure to check it out. Matter and Memory sounds interesting too.

August 09, 2006 11:14 p.m.


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