Very Funny!

Dismayed by the Wikipedia entries for COMEDY and HUMOUR (I’m a Yank, but the article uses Brit spelling) I promised them an outline for a more rational entry. After four hours and eight filled legal pad pages, I realized why comedy and humor have defeated the heavy guns from Aristotle to Miss Piggy.

I thought I might make more progress if I ruminated, bloviated, expatiated, and ran off at the mouth — all in small pieces. That way readers — why not dream? — by the twos and threes could comment, amend, argue, counter propose, or just say, Oh, horse pucky!

I’ll start by arguing for a few definitions — not because mine are better, but because half the problem with humor discussions is a lack of agreement on vocabulary.

But that’s for my second post, after  heavy surfing and eight more pages of legal pad.

If anyone else is similarly obsessed — or even mildly interested — please weigh in. And one last thing: praise makes me feel warm and fuzzy but only criticism really helps me.

Honest!

Jim S.

How about this one: Woody Allen wrote, Man does not live by bread alone. Frequently there is a beverage.

That seems easy to deconstruct: the aphorism is a metaphor but the person who amended it took it literally. I think the result is very funny. But consider:

Man does not live by bread alone. Sometimes you get a drink.

Not funny. Why does Allen’s use of the mealy-mouthed, institutional word “beverage” make all the difference?

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3 Responses

  1. Beverige works better perhaps because the other version smacks of little effort/thought, whereas Allen’s choice indicates thought as well as a sense of humour. (Hah! There’s some English spelling for ya.)

  2. Anji mentioned Dorothy Parker’s quote “If you can’t say anything nice about anyone, come sit right here by me.” Will need to verify source. I say, “You take the blonde, I’ll take the one with the turban.”

    -Looking forward to new posts!
    -Alex

  3. A correspondent who preferred E-mail, wrote, in part:

    Regarding your Woody Allen piece, that Woody, like W. C. Fields before him, obviously loves the idea of using funny-sounding words. “Beverage” is a funnier word than “drink” by far. Fields, of course, went to great lengths to include such words as “Lompoc,” “Grampian Hills,” etc. To those dour fools who don’t think that certain words sound amusing, I pity them for the flat gray world they live in. In the last analysis, one can only say “Godfrey Daniel!”

    Of course, he was equally famous for his character and author names: Mahatma Kane Jeeves, A. Pismo Clam, Egbert Souse (“accent grave over the e”) Cuthbert J. Twilly, et al.

    The giants are no more. Ah, yasss!

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