Thursday, February 7, 2013

Funny Is NOT Universal, but 'God Bless You' Can Kill a Sneeze Anywhere

It's the oldest story in the world... One person or group of persons is watching The Three Stooges and laughing hysterically, and there always seems to be at least one person in the room who is watching the exact same exchange with the typical 'hater stare'... It's not necessary to utter aloud 'Why is this supposed to be funny?' but for some reason those people aren't content to simply roll their eyes in disdain and say nothing.

John has what seems to me to be the most annoying 'faux' laugh I've ever heard, and he reserves it for any occasion when I find The Simpson's or any other animated series on television funny. With animation you can attempt some humor that can be considered super offensive and if/when that's accomplished? Well, if there are any complaints you have the option of saying 'Calm down, it's only a cartoon.' When 'that's not funny' becomes more like a declaration rather than a questionable observation, and you happen to hear it as often as I seem to, it's only natural that a person would a. get defensive  b. get philosophical or c. admit defeat.

I've never really been placed in a position to understand why I laugh at things as often as I have been these days. It's equally unsettling that trying to understand what's provoked your laughter evokes the same reaction as someone saying 'God Bless You' when they see you're about to sneeze. The sneeze disappears and there's a loss of a satisfying 'from your toes' kind of sneeze. It's probably the only real form of palpable magic in a sense. 'God Bless You' before a sneeze is a magical incantation that can be phrased without the need of a corny looking wiccan wand, wicked looking hand gestures, or a wiggle of your nose (for all those Old School Samantha fans out there).
It's not always important to know why you're laughing at something. Laughter is supposed to be a reflexive reaction to a situation, not an invitation to a  highbrow/lowbrow debate culminating in an argument over what is and is not funny. If you're looking to be offended instead of entertained in this world let's face it; You don't have to look hard. People who are looking to be entertained instead of offended will find a laugh nearly anywhere they look as well. It's just that simply explained.
There is, however, good news. John and I have recently arrived at a DVD series called 'Summer Heights High'. It meets all the criteria for John's and my own collective funny bones; It's based on the profiles of three lives in a typical school environment, it's undeniably offensive, and some of the humor is blatantly obvious and some is buried and open to interpretation. I don't want to be 'the spoiler', but if you can't see that all three main characters are the same person (and some original viewers didn't immediately make that connection) you are going to be sincerely offended by it's content. What lays the foundation for the humor accomplished here is that they are all the same person portraying stereotypical characters in a mock high school world. If that world happens to appear real or familiar? Well then, kudos to the creator/actor/writer performing. In one unexpected twist after another he manages to take some of the most uncomfortable real life situations and allows you to laugh at them. It's truly a gem of a show, one I highly recommend. If you can please two completely different humor sensibilities this skillfully? Well, golf claps to you. Teen suicide has never been as laughable, it's true, but don't take my word for it.

To those who can't find laughter in these situations? I suggest you follow a complete stranger around for a bit and wait for the prelude to a sneeze. Say 'God Bless You' before the sneeze occurs. It's a cheap laugh, but it's one you can claim for your very own when you're thinking 'Wow, those really are magic words'. Fin.

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