Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hyperbole: Aren't We Having Fun Yet?

Of all the possible ways to be offensive, the one you've cultivated most of your life relates to the desire to be funny.  You came upon this discovery as a direct consequence of your desire to become educated.

Although you did not at any point wish to be offensive, you fell into that rabbit hole through your observation of vaudeville performers, comedians, and certain performers in the Yiddish theater.  

You did not always directly understand these individuals, but even more so than the Anglicized comics with whom you grew up, you were aware that these Yiddish actors seemed to bring deeper layers of laughter and pleasure to your maternal grandparents, your parents, and some of your parents' friends, all of whom you could ask for translations.

Asking for translations when you're as young as you were when the curiosity hit you became a learning experience of its own.  "You wouldn't appreciate that" was a euphemism for the translation you asked for having something to do with sex.  Asking your mother what a cat house was and being told it was a place where cats were boarded became the final straw in the realization that you were going to have to discover the world on your own terms.

You needed some time to make the connection that persons who were being as funny as you wished to be funny were in a literal sense making fun of specific targets, most of which centered around pomposity, taking ones self too seriously, and grown-up adjuncts of being a complacent and compliant person, which is to say being good, studious, and serious.

There was little wonder your offensiveness, however well intended, was not meant to be offensive, rather that offensiveness was the natural response to someone attempting to take down targets you were aiming at.  There is a level of practiced, civilized humor and funny stuff to be achieved before you are less likely to be considered offensive and more apt to be considered subversive.  

You may still be learning how to achieve this state of being, which is to genuine humor as the state of satori is to Buddhism and savakalpa samadhi is to Hinduism. The humorous state of being has defused the original flare of anger at the target and appears only to be pointing out a mild moral infraction.  This state allows the observer to make observations from a position of innocence or even naivete.  "Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society."

That was from Mr. Twain.  Your reaction to it allowed you your own tribute to it, based on your own observations.  "When someone in Los Angeles tells you, 'Let's have lunch.' they're saying 'fuck you.' but when someone in New York tells you 'Fuck you,' they're really saying 'Let's have lunch.'"

There are degrees to being funny, beginning with being racially or sexually offensive, which is to say demeaning an individual because of race or gender, then, when being called out, affecting the defense of your respondent not being able to take a joke.  The racial and or sexual slur is the land mine of humor, barely disguised hostility, racism and bigotry.  As attack and insult become more substantial, the response is based more on social and cultural awareness than on poorly masked hostility.

Many of the humorists you admire, most notably Mark Twain, but inclusive of more recent men and women, have mastered the art of turning the light of inquiry on themselves, doing so in apparent innocence or naivety or even modesty.  You yearn for that deadpan voice and response, the seemingly casual observation that completes a combination punch to the corpus of the target, rendering it stunned, helpless, often still unaware it has been a target at all.

You've had time to work on educating yourself about your high rate of impatience and your tendency to lapse into the frothy spittle of being argumentative instead of proceeding through conversation, thus your awareness that the offensiveness comes from impatience and from explosive responses.  Humor comes from observation; it is dramatic, visual, often self-inflicted, which makes it funniest of all.

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