Friday, March 3, 2017

You Talk Funny

When you discuss the concept or entity of funny, you open the door to exaggeration and trespass. Most funny things are in fact some exaggeration of the familiar or a trespass over the boundaries associated the ordinary.

Ordinary is more likely to be the attempts to keep chaos under some kind of control. Funny immediately becomes a strain on the leash of ordinary, much like a puppy wanting to go where it wants, contrary to your own intentions. Seeing someone with a puppy straining with intensity becomes funny in direct proportion to its effect on the person holding the leash. The more the strain, seasoned by the fact that you are not the leash holder, the funnier the outcome.

When deviations from the comfort of ordinary become strained or exaggerated, the results are funny.

"Funny you should call [or text or appear in person]. I was only now thinking I should call [or text or visit] you."

The response to this funny is the observation "Cosmic." which is yet funnier because of the way it presupposed any kind of coincidence within the chaos of existence something that was fated or destined to happen, or, at its greatest exaggeration, predestined, meaning it was somehow written as operating instructions of what cosmic forces beyond our control plotted out for us.

More often than not, funny is physical in nature. You, for instance, picking up someones sunglasses in the belief they are your own, putting them on, then becoming startled by the fact of their being prescriptive and, thus, a shock to your own sense of order.

Funny is anyone but you, slipping on a banana peel or attempting to walk on an icy, snowy street. Such a slip, if seen by others, is funny to them, but you are irritated with yourself for having lost balance or control or, worse yet, dignity. You laugh at yourself in mock camaraderie, but you are more irritated than amused.

Funny is a man with an exaggerated mustache, a woman with a dress well out of style, a child unaware of a mustache from drinking grape juice, a cat that sees itself in a mirror and recoils as though its own image were a predator. In fact, a cat coming on a cucumber is funny to us because of the cat's sudden reaction of alarm and the need to retreat. "Just a cucumber. Funny cat for being frightened of a cucumber. Imagine being frightened by a cucumber."  Ha ha, but remember the last time you were frightened by a spider in a place where you did not expect a spider to be.

The observation by one person that another is "acting funny" is simple code for the behavior of the accused seeming idiosyncratic or out of the ordinary to the accuser. There is a possible implication that funny is a code word for irrational or, at least, unorthodox.

Punchlines to jokes are often considered funny because their overall effect comes as an abrupt departure from the ordinary, a surprise, you might say, perhaps even an exaggerated one, which reminds you of your youngest nephew, married to your niece. He is a native of Japan, his first language Japanese. He enjoys telling a joke in which a Japanese employee of an American company is the designated custodian of supplies, a word and concept that sounds like a racist slur if used by an English-speaking person to simulate the Japanese difficulty of pronouncing the word surprise. Were you to tell the same joke, you'd have to find a way--if there were such a path--to duck racist implications. But he had the last--funny-laugh when you told him you were having a cataract operation. "But," he said, "why would you need one? You have a Japanese auto?"

Humor is a different matter. While funny plays off the notion of chaos and order, humor plays off of painful comparisons and awareness. Humor is the equivalent of saying ouch, whether it is you or someone else who has the oww-ie. You're nearly insulated from pain with funny, even if you're the one who slips on the banana peel or is the recipient of a pie in the face. Most of us are used to moments of embarrassment and recovery. Humor is the recognition of pain, in our self and others.

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