Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"You can't laugh at the same joke twice." Heraclitus

  What is the one place you can turn for humorous results without risk of disappointment?

   Fear, of course; our communal fears or your own personal fears.  The reader or viewer, watching us struggle, may experience a moment of painful connection, which intensifies to the point of discomfort at the fear that there is no release or way out of disaster.  

The absolute sense of helplessness and vulnerability triggers the release of laughter.  As a matter of cultural self-awareness, we understand what our laughter means; the discharge of the tension arising from the vulnerability and fear, the relief that this time we are not the victim, some individual in a film or play or story is the victim.  The laughter is the payoff of humor.

If we chose to pursue the matter, we may discover some hidden truth in our laughter, thus does humor become more than a mere release; it becomes revelation through the baring of a sad truth.  Back to rhetorical questions such as the one in the first sentence:  What is a sad truth?

A sad truth is an awareness of a constant result, learned during or after an event we once thought to be safe.  Thus the awareness that doing this particular thing will always produce pain or discomfort, either physical, psychological, or both.  

Pain and discomfort may collude to provoke you into cautionary behavior.  Thinking to protect yourself, you could with ease make yourself more vulnerable to the potential growth in learning that may--repeat, may--come from taking a risk.

You could argue that attempting to arrange outcomes in hopes of safety may be more risky than you once thought.  Experience with risk will trigger humorous memories.

You could argue that humor abounds, dwells where ever there are individuals doing things of any consequence, but in doing so you bring in another aspect of humor, which is to say point-of-view, or  the gored ox.  It is not funny if your ox is the one who has been gored.  What was your ox thinking of, getting in the way like that?

We may be seated in a large auditorium, laughing at some communal trigger, but yet another question arises:  Are we sure we are laughing at the same joke?

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

There's a contract in joke telling, in which the person receiving the humor allows themselves to be caught unaware, or to be made to appear foolish by the one delivering the joke. Once the joke is heard, you're aware, and a little bit wiser, and so the contract is null and void.

Which reminds me of the story of the dog who walked into a bar. He had his arm in a sling and slid onto the bar stool. The bar tender, wiping a glass eyed him sternly. "We don't serve dogs here. We don't want any trouble." And the dog casually replied. "Oh there won't be any trouble. I'm just looking for the man who shot my paw."