My Sense of Humor
What is funny?  While people have written volumes on the subject, a while back I started realizing that I could at least answer this as it related to myself.  The following taxonomy grew out of an email on the subject.




This is part of my recipe for what makes me laugh.  You don't have to have all of the elements, but the more of these are present in any show, the better the effect on me:
For example...
One of my favorite memories was watching the first episode of Cartoon Planet or Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast I ever ran across.  I caught it almost right from the beginning and had no idea what it was.  If you've never seen the show, it was just Space Ghost, Brak, and Zorak sitting around and telling lame jokes, singing silly songs, and occasionally pretending to interview live guests.  This episode was a little different.

The characters were holding a contest to pick their favorite cartoon of the ones presented by the respective animators.  All of these were first time cartoonists, guys who worked for Cartoon Network for whom this was their first original creation to receive air time.  They sat down and told Space Ghost about their show while the panel of judges (all of whom were former villains from the old SG series in the '60s) listened to the interview.  The whole time Brak was saying (yelling!) out random things.  Things were coming so fast that I couldn't keep up with what all was going on.  If there hadn't been any commercials, I honestly could have died.  I probably pulled muscles trying to get breath back into me, I was laughing so hard!

The Space Ghost episode touches on almost all of these; that's why it had such a powerful effect on me.  There was so much going on in that episode that it epitomized the "faster, more intense" approach.  Not only that, it also kept changing gears so you couldn't tell where it was going next.  Further, only a portion of the show was actually scripted; all of the interviews with the cartoonists were spontaneous and bordered on guerrilla journalism.  The episode also inserted completely unrelated elements (notably, Brak's outbursts).  Finally, the fact that this program was developed from existing characters and re-edited interviews made it all the more hilarious.  Were it composed of original characters and conducted interviews in a conventional manner, it would not have had the same effect.


On the other hand...
The flip side of this is that there are a number of things that just do not work for me, but the common thread through all of these would be that they are based around the idea of making the protagonist uncomfortable.  That's just too much of a sad reality.  For example, movies like Meet the Parents thrive on this when there really isn't much there to draw from.  A better version of the entire movie can be found in the scenes in Annie Hall where Alvy visit's Annie's parents.  Rather than just sitting there uncomfortably, we see Alvy viewed as a Hassidic rabbi through the eyes of Annie's anti-Semitic grandmother.  It's a quick, random detour that makes its point and the film keeps right on moving.

Copyright Ale[x]otic pet.
Back to the index