Are you, Funny?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

This photo was taken sometime around 30 A.D.
Peter had just told a really funny "yo mama" joke.

Have you ever cast a forlorn gaze towards the stars, wide-eyed and with an air of contemplative self-reflection posed the eternal question to the heavens, "Am I...Funny?"

Well, you’re certainly not alone. People are constantly asking me for my opinion of their jokes, faces, pantomimes, girlfriends, joke girlfriends, pantomime girlfriends, and Charles Manson impersonations. Everyone wants to be funny...

Many times, people have told me that I’m funny, and asked me what my secret is, and usually:

i. I tell them I don't have one

ii. I tell them funny is as funny does

iii. I tell them to look into their own heart and find the funny

These are all bold-faced lies, of course, but people believe them anyway. And people will believe them still, even after reading this.

Mastering The Online Joke, for purposes of eliciting the digi-laugh, is a noble aim, indeed. But not everyone is cut out for it. By the same token, many who possess the gift of funny might not recognize it in time, and precious unborn laughs may never see the light of day.

The Law of Conservation of Laughs states that laughs can neither be created nor destroyed (Not to be confused with the fabled "Law" of Conservation of Mass). This makes laughter a precious, non-renewable resource, right up there with Oil, friendly robots, and Car horns that play “Dixie Land”.

There are a number of Environmental and Social indicators which can give you a fairly clear picture of whether you are funny or not, and if you have dreams of reveling in LOL glory, you'd be wise to heed them. Sure, the most obvious sign is grotesquely violent laughter, but contrary to popular thought, this is not the only indicator. It is not always as clear cut as you might assume; humor is very complex. For example, if you see people laughing around you, that is a good sign. But also if you see people NOT laughing around you, that's also a good sign, because you might have said something that was so funny they forgot to laugh.

Wet spots on the fronts of your friends’ pants are generally a good sign, unless of course your friends are between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, or if you are friends with Fergie--In which case, very little helpful information can be gleaned from such observations.

Sometimes signs are very hard to read, and you have to pay close attention to context clues. For example, a slap of the knee is always a good sign, but the same cannot be said about a slap of the face…or genitals. Contrary to Michael Richards’ philosophy, threats of violence and the words “hate”, “bastard”, and “burn in hell” generally do not indicate a successful performance.

The presence of tears often means that you have successfully produced a digi-laugh of great intensity. But just remember that some common phrases such as “I slept with your roommate”, “I want a divorce”, “I’m not your real father”, and “grandma killed grandpa in a murder/suicide last night” are not considered jokes, at least not in the western world, so don’t automatically jump up and start doing the moonwalk if you see tears.

Lastly, if you hear people shouting "CLEAR!" , "DOES ANYONE KNOW CPR!?", or "DEAR GOD, WE'RE LOSING HIM!" , don't be distracted. That is a good sign. It is highly possible that you have reached the pinnacle of any aspiring joke-robot’s career, you just might be Knocking 'Em Dead.

Some things just aren't funny...and if one of those things is you, then I feel really bad for you. But don’t pluck your own eyes out just yet, you're in luck. I used to be of the opinion that you can't teach funny, but I now believe that it may be possible. To illustrate, let's examine funny's inbred cousin to the south...stupid.

A lot of people say that you can't teach stupid, but i would like to present a few possible shreds of evidence to the contrary. I’ve recently been made aware of the results of a top secret study conducted by Gerber foods, the aim of which was to determine if humans were really responsible for the extinction of Passenger Pigeons, California Condors, and The Dodo. After all the stool samples were taken and photo archives sufficiently pored-over, it was determined that humans are, in fact, NOT responsible for the extinction of these treasured bird-like creatures, guns are. The NRA was quick to point out the flaws in the study, claiming that the results were heavily and unfairly influenced by sling-shot lobbyist groups, and that sling-shots deserve just as much, if not more, blame for the extinction of these poor animal-like creatures.

Now, having read the results of this study, another possibility occurred to me. What if these unfortunate winged lifeforms had been unknowingly teaching one another…stupid? Maybe humans, guns, and slingshots could all be off the hook on this one, and at the same time maybe one of the world’s oldest educational myths could be completely blown out of the water once and for all!

Sure, we've all heard the stories about how you could buy a Hershey's bar for 5 passenger pigeon beaks, and we've all seen the old photos of Evel Knievel making true on his promise to jump his 1974 Triumph T150 over a swimming pool filled with California Condor Carcasses in East L.A., but was anybody really counting the number of passenger pigeons that flew into stained glass windows, or the number of condors that soared a little too close to the sun, or the number of Dodos that didn’t wait 30 minutes after eating to go swimming? Now, I don't have any hard evidence--or soft, for that matter--to substantiate my claims, and scientists participating in the study have repeatedly ignored my beautifully-illustrated letters. But I do believe that at least some degree of stupid was transmitted between these bizarre, feathered abominations, and this contributed significantly to their untimely, though welcomed, demise. Bittersweet as it is, their extinction should serve as a beacon of hope for those unfortunate souls who happen to think that Two and a Half Men is this generation's Seinfeld, and a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel for those who couldn't score a chuckle from the crowd at a Bob Marley tribute concert.

In addition, it’s a documented fact that with hillbillies, intelligence skips a generation...and then another, and another...there is a lot of stupid being "teached" in the hill country of South Carolina, the state where "Comfort Food" means eating a bean bag chair for dinner. And all I'm saying is that if someone named Jethro can teach three other people, also named Jethro, to climb a tree and poke at a beehive with a wooden spoon, then why can’t someone named Mr. Snuffle-feathers teach someone named Craig Ferguson how to score a LOL once in awhile?

So clearly, if stupid can be taught, it would be reasonable to assume that funny could also be taught, since the line between funny and stupid is extremely thin, almost as thin as the contestants at the annual Miss Meth Pageant.

There are a lot of nay-sayers out there who will say "oh Pierce, you just think EVERYthing can be taught". That's not true. I firmly believe you cannot teach cancer, despite even the best efforts of the "For Dummies" book series creators...

I read it from cover to cover, and I didn't get
so much as a runny-nose...