Humor: A Gross Domestic Product

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As a self proclaimed American Pop Culture idiot, I am on a quest to find out what humor is and what constitutes rib tickling funny! So however small your contribution is, I can assure you it will make a big difference. 

*Stand-up routine begins*

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Sh*t, Bullsh*t, F*ck, Mother F*cker, Assh*le, B*tch, Bleep!

Well, I think that will do.. :) But, if you can think of any more words that fit into the dictionary of modern-day comedy, I would love to know.. !!

My Grandfather was a simpleton and he had his fun jesting about the milkman and the imaginary infidelity of his wife who gave birth his ‘own’ children. And over the years, the joke was found to be trite, and that gave birth to a new class of comedy called the Sitcom / Late-night / Stand-up style.

“Thank goodness Clinton is doing fine. And today his condition was upgraded from stable to horny.” – Jay Leno

I think sense of humor can be broadly divided into three categories: 

I

Toilet Humor:

In the past: Grandfather’s Flatulence:

The Queen of England was showing the Archbishop of Canterbury around the Royal Stables when one of the stallions close by farted so loudly it couldn’t be ignored.

‘Oh dear,’ said the Queen, ‘How embarrassing. I’m frightfully sorry about that.’

‘It’s quite understandable,’ said the archbishop, and after a moment added, ‘as a matter of fact I thought it was the horse.’

Today: Fart jokes: 

These jokes have reached such an alarming proportion, that now, there is a website to send a fart to someone we hate or love! So heartwarming, isn’t it?! *definitely sarcastic*

II

Infidelity jokes:

In the past: Grandfather’s Version:

An elderly couple is sharing an intimate dinner in honor of their 75th wedding anniversary.

The man says softly, “Dear, there is something I must ask you.

It has always bothered me that our sixth child never quite looked like the rest of our children.

Now, let me assure you these 75 years have been the most wonderful I could have hoped for, and your answer will not take all that away.

But, please tell me: did he have a different father?”

His wife lowers her eyes, pauses for a moment, and then confesses, “Yes. Yes, he did.”

The old man tightens, very shaken, the reality hitting him hard.

“Who? Who was he? Who was the father?”

Again, the woman lowers her head, trying to muster the courage to finally tell her husband the truth.

She says, “You.”

Today’s Version:

At the hospital bed of his newly born baby, a man says to his wife, “Shut up you b*tch, you dirty Ho, you think you can get away with that! You Mother F*cker, you said you love me and is this what you do?? Why does this baby have dark skin and brown hair?? And if you say one more word, I will pull you down into the muck and slap you around..” *And now I would assume the audience to burst into a wild frenzy of laughter…???*

III

General Definitions:

In the past: Grandfather’s Funny Definition of Father:

He is a banker provided by Nature / God..

Today: The Modern Standard Dictionary:

Urbandictionary.com provides these eye opening references. And while you are at it, please don’t miss the tags/categories that the definition can fall into. And again inevitably, I use a sentence that has double entendre in it.. Poignant!

Queen to lame definitions for father in just a couple of generations?! Today we live and thrive in fat and fart jokes, bladder jokes, American ‘pie’s, adult a.k.a. mature jokes..

Why does everything has to be out there, why is there no room and appreciation for subtlety..? Whether it is American or British or European or Asian, humor has changed a lot in its nuances.. And make no mistake, by subtle, I don’t mean:

“Bill Clinton’s new memoir has already had orders for 1.5 million copies. In fact, it’s already in its third printing. The first two were stained.” —David Letterman

Why is there no humor that is smart, intelligent, and still clean.. And because you would suspect there is no funny bone in me.. I have to confess that I have not been all that clean myself!

And why am I fan of her’s.. ?? My theory is, she thinks she is funny and actually gets away with that nonsense!!

Mark Twain said “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.” But that was in the 19th century, so is that to say, Anger is the new Funny???

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*Stand-up routine ends*

You have all been very kind, thank you!! Mwah mwah..

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Contributions from readers:

Nathan, The Extinct Existentialist and Tony: While Nathan seems to agree with the tone of the post, EE adds that he too is embarrassed by what is passed at humor these days and Tony doesn’t find ‘Fart’ humor that funny!

Amy says: We were given a language. Make it beautiful. The pendulum will surely swing. I know some pretty ‘hot’ people and not one of them resorts to this sort of language or emphasis when they are in their roles in front of people. In fact, I’ve seen some speak out against it if there is an indication that the topic is heading that direction.

Kima points out at: One of Tailor Mali’s videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKyIw9fs8T4

Timo talks about German Stand-up Comedy: We don’t have many swear words in German stand-up comedy though. And do you know why? Because it is not as strictly forbidden as in the US!
There is no beep sound (at least not after 6 pm or so), no black bars over mouths when someone swears. The result? It is uninteresting for a comedian to swear on TV here, because it is not a breach of taboo.
Comedians in general often want and try to breach taboos – so actually all those regulations have an opposite effect than intended.

Jamie observes the following about language: As far as language goes, when I see so many of our poets with potential, I’m sorry to observe a need for a dictionary and an expanded vocabulary to include useful adjectives. Such laziness is a sad thing.

Dillon introduces me to George Carlin and his 7 dirty words!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_Nrp7cj_tM

Eremophila talks about humor in Australia:

http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/comedy.htm

Slamdunk the Cop gives a snapshot of his childhood: There was a very tall collegiate basketball player (he was over 7 foot tall) where I used to live. When reporters would ask about his size and his family, he would say,”well my mom is 5 foot 7 and my dad is 5 foot 9, but our mailman is 7 foot 2.”

Mr. Mojo Risin observes, “I see it this way, humor is something that make you laugh and at the same time, provides entertainment. The thing is, what’s considered funny is completely up to the individual.” And he recommends, Lewis Black, for he enjoys jokes having to do with religion, politics and any other thing that drives the world mad.

1. Lewis Black (talking about America…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mCDZMWVWuc

2. Demetri Martin (check out his special “If I” on youtube, was quite inspiring and uplifted me even though it was stand up. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKnzPHtf9u4

3. Bill Hicks (talking about how stupid people can get on drugs. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX1CvW38cHA

4. Brian Regan (UPS weighing joke. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89frRi8GgGA

5. Christopher Titus (His special “Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding”. Opens up to the crowd about his past and how screwed up he is mentally because of it. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP1kKcZtnkQ

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42 Comments

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  1. This is a perfect post. haha

  2. theextinctexistentialist October 19, 2010 — 3:02 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m embarrassed by much of American pop culture and what passes for humor these days. I too long for the intelligence and subtlety that is lacking in supposedly funny jokes. Thanks for this post.

    • Thanks Existentialist for your comments, this article was born out of desperation really..! I don’t expect to close my kids’ ears everytime they hear or come across something silly or crude.. :( And by writing, I don’t even expect that such bad influence of society will go away, but just needed to vent, so here it is :)
      Thank you for taking time! I appreciate that.

  3. Thank you, Rachana. You speak my sentiments. I grow dismayed over the apparent need to focus on body parts or bodily emissions in the name of humour.

    Or hurting another living thing.

    One of my younger blogger friends asked me my opinion about using the “f” word or bodily parts in her blogging. I told her I believe it is a sign of mental laziness. We were given a language. Make it beautiful.

    Hopefully it is just a competition to see who can be more shocking or daring. Or, is this the product of newer souls who are stuck in some base chakra? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

    The pendulum will surely swing. I know some pretty ‘hot’ people and not one of them resorts to this sort of language or emphasis when they are in their roles in front of people. In fact, I’ve seen some speak out against it if there is an indication that the topic is heading that direction. Nothing to do with religious or spiritual gatherings!

    Meanwhile, thanks for “grandfather” and stick with using that wonderful gray matter he contributed to you both physically and humourously!

  4. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, but “fart humor” doesn’t seem that funny to when written down, but I do see what you’re talking about. Great usage of quotes to emphasize your points. Another wonderfly written post! Bravo!

  5. I’ve been staying out of the way of stand-up comedy for many of the reasons you mention here … I have nothing against references to bodily parts and fluids … when younger, I remember hearing few rather subtly intelligent jokes involving such words — though the imagery in those jokes acted as a distraction from the punch line … but it bothers me when comedians use profanity and similar s the only way to get the audience laughing … in most professions, if you’re not good, you’re out, but apparently bad comedians can still thrive by increasing the frequency of use of sh*t, f*ck, etc. :-(

    As an antidote, I suggest you check slam poetry … I wrote long time ago about Tailor Mali, who is one of the best I found doing this kind of poetry: http://mybin.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/slam-poetry-of-the-inspirational-type/ … I still find him very funny and inspiring! … I think you will like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKyIw9fs8T4 in particular :-P

    • OMG, that totally totally grossed me out, thanks Kima ;) But, I think Tailor Mali actually knows his words correctly, before twisting them and using some other ‘bad’ words in their place.. So, for that reason, I would say I like his comedy :)) Also, thanks for introducing him, had no idea about slam poetry till now.. ! And yes, I think my favorite pick IS, “Totally like whatever, you know?”, the unnecessary use of the word LIKE bothers me to no end, I just suffer whenever I listen to that word now.. :( I was just telling this “http://fudgethatsugar.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/57-literally/” girl about the same thing today!
      GN! :)

      • Glad you liked it … I suspected it would offer a much nicer alternative to the stand-ups’ prof(-ane-/-ound-)ness ;-)

        Btw, I get engrossed watching Mali too … when I was replying to you I decided to watch one of his poems for inspiration, though I watched them many times so far … then I convinced myself one more wouldn’t harm … and then another … and … you get the picture ;-)

        Either I get easily distracted or he’s good in capturing my attention ;-) … no wonder I am late with my next article :-D

  6. Here in Germany it is not that bad, but there are certain tendencies…
    We have an awful lot of stand-up comedians here lately. Everyone wants to be different and tries to distinguish themselves from the others. And alas, many times not for the good.
    However, at least some comedians here are very smart, witty and subtle. E.g. there is an ex medical scientist and an ex physicist who gave up their job just to do comedy – and they are successful with intelligent humour.

    We don’t have many swear words in German stand-up comedy though. And do you know why? Because it is not as strictly forbidden as in the US!
    There is no beep sound (at least not after 6 pm or so), no black bars over mouths when someone swears. The result? It is uninteresting for a comedian to swear on TV here, because it is not a breach of taboo.
    Comedians in general often want and try to breach taboos – so actually all those regulations have an opposite effect than intended.
    So I think that all those swear words etc. are not there for no reason – it is a reaction to something. That’s my theory at least.

    • I think that is definitely a big part of it, if not all of it.. Breaching of taboo! So, it must be exciting not to stick to the norm and be ‘different’.. That idea is good, but why join the sensationalism culture by using derogatory and degrading language?
      Thanks Timo, I like the way you gave me some insight into German comedy! And thanks for letting me use your picture for my header image!! I love that up there decorating my blog :D

  7. This is a well done post, Rachana.

    I am bored with current humor. Cringe at the lack of any taste and refinement.

    As far as language goes, when I see so many of our poets with potential, I’m sorry to observe a need for a dictionary and an expanded vocabulary to include useful adjectives. Such laziness is a sad thing.

    Love to you! :-) xx

  8. Being an American teenager, crude humor is pretty much expected. I suppose that’s why I don’t quite fit in, because as I see it humor should make a person laugh without something vulgar. Of course, vulgarity does have the capability of being funny, but anymore it seems it’s only used in a crude, insulting way.

    George Carlin’s ‘7 Dirty Words’ could be a great way to appreciate how vulgarity is used, but maybe not. :) Anyway, I feel he hit the nail on the head with his comedy segment.

    Also, thank you for the visits to my blog, I greatly appreciate it.

    • Dillon! Thanks so much for introducing me to George Carlin!! That 7 dirty words piece is so unbelievably funny inspite of being filled all the above words that I was talking about!! I can’t believe I have never seen this before, and I thought I had seen them all.. :)
      And when he says he has strange dreams, it is ROFLMAO funny!! I have to say I genuinely laughed.. Thanks for that :)

  9. http://www.convictcreations.com/culture/comedy.htm
    This site will give you a good idea of Aussie humour….really, much of our humour aligns with British humour – we’ve never been all that fond of American humour.

    • Thanks Eremophila for visiting! Ok, I will try not to take it too personally about what u said about our American jokes! Ha ha.. Thanks for the link and a window to Australian comedy culture! The home page picture, even though repelling, I had to see it twice to get the idea behind it ;) I am still laughing about the difference between Aus, Brit and American and Canadian comedy on the home page, except for they should have Indian also in that..! Oh well, some might argue British and Indian can be used interchangeably most of the places, he he he.. Also, the quick guide to Aussie culture is priceless!!! Thank you for willing to poke fun at yourself to help me understand what humor is in Australia! Appreciate that very much, mate :)

  10. Clever and humorous post Rachana. In line with your grandfather’s humor, there was a very tall collegiate basketball player (he was over 7 foot tall) where I used to live. When reporters would ask about his size and his family, he would say,”well my mom is 5 foot 7 and my dad is 5 foot 9, but our mailman is 7 foot 2.” That would always bring a laugh from the crowd.

    • Awww, so we have been making fun of the milk man and the mail man, wherever we have been in the world..?! ;) I wonder our need to come up with some different kind of humor originated from the fact that these professions are slowly disappearing and we are coming less and less in contact with human services.. Ha ha..
      Thanks for your visit SD!

  11. Thanks everyone for writing and contributing, I have updated my post with your valuable insights and contributions! Thanks for adding decoration, appreciate that very much!!

  12. humor is a forever treat for all..
    thoughtful post.

  13. http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/6244/
    Three awards for you, I value your participation at Jingle poetry during past weeks, hope to see you again tonight. Our theme is love and romance, have fun sharing! xxx

    • Thanks for the recognition, Jingle! I am glad you liked the post! And I equally value your visits, they mean so much.. I will link one of my poems to the Poetry Potluck, thanks for your encouragement!!
      Rachana.

  14. Great post Rachana, and right up my alley. I see it this way, humor is something that make you laugh and at the same time, provides entertainment. The thing is, what’s considered funny is completely up to the individual. In my post about religion, I recommend three comedians, one of them being Lewis Black. If you are unfamiliar with his work, he is notoriously known for yelling his jokes, and I know that in your post that you say that you are looking for clean humor, and I must admit that he is not the most clean comedian I have seen, he often swears (actually, a lot) but he doesn’t do fart or fat jokes, mostly topical humor, having to do with religion, politics and any other thing that drives the world mad. In a sense, his yelling takes pressure and stress off you, if you in fact agree with what he’s yelling about. I guess the best way to provide some help would be to list off some good comedians….

    [5 link suggestions redacted by Heart and published in the main post]

    I think 5 should do it for now, let me know if you enjoy any of them, once again I loved your post, hope to hear from you soon :).

    Mr. Mojo Risin

    • Thanks for your comments and insights Mojo! I haven’t checked these out, but will soon.. :) And Lewis Black is on my todo list from our previous exchange on your site last week, Ha ha.. And now thanks for giving a point of reference to work with! I guess I have only heard of Christopher Titus among all these guys, will add them to my list up here in the main post, thanks so much, will follow this comment up with a more detailed one after watching these videos!!
      Pleasure to see you here, as always!
      Rachana.

      • Ok, Mojo, once again, thanks so much for the videos!! I had so much fun watching them and learning so much.. :))

        Lewis Black: I am a fan now.. He rocks!! His National health insurance questions.. 30 page diabetes catalogue.. Lactose intolerant milk.. Funnny!!! But I think his best comes from his Gay support talk: “Energy policy.. Solar energy.. educational system.. War.. and all the they want to do is create Policies on marriage ban on the queers..”

        Demetri Martin – I think I like him the best.. Smart and funny.. Just regular boy next door.. Mensa Mighty Mindbusters.. Mythical creature – just animals with wings.. Heart attack while playing charades, how to emote or not.. but his “Dammit I’m Mad” palindrome essay is cool and most creative!!

        Christopher Titus, is a little dark for me, but I was laughing and crying at the same time because while laughing at his jokes, I was sad about his childhood too :)) And he was the one who actually did not have a lot of curse words in his jokes..

        Thanks for the funnies, totally worth it!!! ;)

        • I’m sooooo glad you enjoyed them Rachana, I had a feeling you’d love them!

          I’m also happy that you are getting such great feedback. People are really putting up some great recommendations for all things funny.

          I didn’t read all of the comments so I don’t know if anyone recommended Mike Birbiglia, but he’s quite funny as well, I’ll post a link for you as well:

          In all honesty I never got the chance to watch this special but I will now since I found it :D.

          His previous stuff is about growing up and past experiences that were so uncommon and traumatizing that they still remain on his mind.

          Lewis Black is awesome, never gets old and I’m glad you’re a fan of his now.

          Demetri Martin can also be considered one of my favorites, that special specifically. That was one of the more deep-hitting specials I’ve seen, plenty specials can make me laugh, think, but only those “once in a blue moon” moments come upon a special that hits my core.

          Yeah, Christopher Titus is a bit dark, but it’s a kind of “sad but true” feeling with a sense to just accept life as it is and try your best to move through bad times with laughter and a little therapy (my specialty).

          I hope to hear from you soon, have a great weekend!

          Mr. Mojo Risin

  15. Hi Rachana! ha ha I love this post! I think you are right… what’s wrong w/ so much comedy these days? I think perhaps people are just lazy and in a rush to produce something and don’t take the time to be creative… since being crude is so much easier, apparently!

    • Hi Lisa, how have you been???! Thanks for telling me that you enjoyed the piece.. :) It means a lot, especially because I feel you enjoy similar things in life like me, including humor.. He he..
      See you around!
      Rachana.

  16. Hi Rachana Dear,

    What great jokes.. how well have you given the edited version.. Very beautifully compiled the fellow Bloggers’ opinion too..

    * BOW *

    I am completely floored.. What rich words.. the essence couldn’t have been missed. “Jokes” apart, using the F- word seems to be the “in” trend, if you can’t then you haven’t yet arrived- Whatever- I am guessing you know what does a woman mean when she says “whatever..”

    LOLsss
    You have done some serious research Girl.. So very slapstick at the right place.. errrr.. where it’s intended I mean- nothing else.. :)

    My Sunday noon couldn’t have been any better Dear.. xoxox

    • Smart girl.. Ha ha, heck, you have written a better comment than my original post.. What can I say?? Thanks Olivia, always something interesting when you visit! I am grateful that I have been the source of entertainment this time around!!
      ;)

  17. How is everything? I hope that you have enjoyed your participation at our Monday Potluck, love your talent and your willingness to share.
    Join us this coming Monday for another week of fun, old poems or poems unrelated to our theme are welcome.
    Hope to see you then.
    Let me know if you have questions.
    You Rock!
    xoxox

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Olivia, you guys are always accommodating, always willing to give the ‘newbies’ a chance! I am trying to write a poem for the Holidays, so will participate sometime soon!
      Thanks for checking, can’t wait to read what yours!!
      :)

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