Was That Funny Ha-ha or Funny Odd?

Self portrait

Funny looking, anyway

Well, there’s cheap humor, and by “cheap” I mean “popular”. It’s a kind of humor that takes little effort or thought—and who wouldn’t love something that takes little thought?—and yet people laugh anyway. At least 13-year-old boys do, and some men…many…or most…OK, pretty much all men.

What is it that takes no effort but amuses everyone sometimes and the simple minded every time? Sex jokes of course. But you knew that. For instance, what do you call an Alabama farmer with a sheep under each arm? A pimp. Actually, since I’m from Georgia, that counts as an Alabama joke. A real sex joke would be the difference between sin and a shame—it’s a sin to stick it in and a shame to pull it out.

The other kind of cheap and easy humor is scatological. The snooty term “scatological” is pretty much fancy Latin for “fart jokes”. As a male who was once 13, I of course recognize that the world is a better place if we are able to refer to a loud fart as “releasing the hounds”.

But we’re grownups here, Mature and Responsible, so we push past intellectual laziness to something more sophisticated. Like the blonde who took a scarf back to the store because it was too tight. Or we could move into professional humor, such as that involving lawyers:

The National Institutes of Health decided to start using lawyers instead of rats in their experiments, explaining that:

  • Lab assistants were becoming emotionally attached to the rats, which would not be a problem if they used lawyers.
  • Humanitarian societies would not object to the way lawyers were treated.
  • There are some things a rat won’t do.

But if a person has decided to abandon all pretense of contributing to society, I know I’ve got my hand in the air, by becoming a writer, then naturally that person will want to generate humor through subtle manipulation of text and situation. As soon as I run out of fart jokes.

While contemplating this topic of humor, I found that I had run out of balsamic vinegar, which is a staple for any house that… Actually, some houses don’t have balsamic vinegar at all. I guess it’s a staple for any house that has balsamic vinegar. Before a salad crisis could arise, a vegetable conflict that I didn’t want to contemplate, I drove to the grocery store.

Though I was only at the grocery emporium for balsamic vinegar, I didn’t know what impulse items might acquire a dietary importance that had not been evident before I entered the store. I might suddenly need plantains, if I were to take up Central American cooking, or tapioca flour, in case… in case… I can’t imagine what that would be used for. But you never know, so I got a shopping cart and went looking for a bottle of aceto balsamico tradizionale, as we Mature and Responsible cooks like to think of it.

When I reached the condiment aisle, I found that a woman had just had a moment of revelation, and she stood transfixed, staring into space not moving. Or maybe she was staring at the bottles of hot sauce. I don’t know. She wasn’t moving at any rate. And her cart was in the middle of the aisle.

So I couldn’t reach the vinegar. I tried to be polite. I waited patiently. I read the ingredients on a jar of mayonnaise. I said “hmm!” loudly. Finally I went around to the next aisle to come in from another direction, but just as I got there, a store employee had filled the aisle with boxes of anchovies. I don’t like anchovies. My brother would always put them on pizzas at home when he was cooking, and I couldn’t bear them. And now anchovies were blocking the aisle.

I’m a very patient man, as you can tell, not only Mature and Responsible, but even-tempered in spite of my dislike of anchovies. While I was waiting, I went off to the cereal aisle to examine the granola, which I didn’t need, but when I came back to condiments, the anchovies and the contemplative woman were still blocking the aisle. I knew that it was almost time for Wheel of Fortune to come on TV, so I didn’t have time to buy balsamic vinegar, and I was forced to return home without it.

Now I can’t have a salad, and without the roughage provided by a salad I can’t possibly be funny.

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Filed under How We Create Magic

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