Friday, February 8, 2013
That funny thing, humour.
Ok, why are some things funny? As with all these questions, I’m sure the answer is complex, and no doubt volumes have been written on the subject. So here I will just throw around some first thoughts.
My very first first thought is that an unexpected outcome is amusing. As human beings we place a great deal of trust in reliability and repeatability. Since the sun rose this morning and the day before that and the day before that, we rather expect it to rise tomorrow too. If it didn’t, that would be… well, probably a bit of a disaster actually. Now, if, instead of the sun rising, a giant apple poked its head (do apples have heads?) above the horizon, that might be pretty funny – at least until we all died. Similarly, we have fallen into the habit of expecting the ground to hold us up. If, suddenly, my mother-in-law fell through the floor, that would be hilarious, just as it’s funny when someone slips on a banana peel. Well, it would be funny for those watching. Well, it would be funny for me, anyway.
My second first thought is this. Things are funny when we put two things together that aren’t usually together; in other words, incongruity is funny. So, a rabbit on a skateboard might raise a giggle. A politician telling the truth would have us all in stitches. Kittens exploding in the microwave… or is that just me? Gremlins then.
My third first thought is that we find it amusing when we discover that something is not what we first thought it to be. For instance, I think it would be kind of funny if we saw someone wearing a donkey costume, and when the costume was taken of it revealed an actual donkey. Ok, maybe not. It’s also funny (usually in a titillating kind of way) when objects resemble something else. So yes, here comes the inevitable carrot photograph:
And that’s about it for my first thoughts on this subject. Pretty soon I will be having second thoughts about the whole idea, so I will quit while I am ahead.