Tag Archives: funny

Real Life

There’s an old phrase: “Life imitates art.”  It can be interpreted various ways, but it is odd how sometimes things happen that seem unreal and fictional – or even fanciful.

I remember a Memorial Day weekend when we lived in Duluth.  We were planting our little garden when I noticed it was snowing.  I realized I was planting snow peas at the time.  Not an earthshaking coincidence, but still…

More recently, and far less happily, it was reported that an angry camel bit off a man’s head.  So for all those times when somebody who was being criticized said, “Don’t bite my head off,” we now know if can happen.

Back when we used to cut and bale our own hay, the expression “make hay while the sun shines” took on a literal meaning as storm clouds rolled in when we had another load to finish.  Making hay has other meetings, as does hitting the hay, or a roll in the hay.  None are enhanced by rain, though.

The expression “nothing is sure except for death and taxes” took on new meaning at the VFW fish fry in Stoughton last weekend when we noticed that the placemat had a mortuary and a tax preparation service listed.  For some reason that reminds me of the Archie’s Monuments location that used to be on Highway 26 north of Watertown which also featured miniature golf.  A very interesting combination business.  Watch out for the last hole!

Another tragic example of late: the man who attempted suicide by stripping naked and breaking in to the lions’ area at a zoo.  Throwing someone to the lions is supposed to be a metaphor.  It’s hard to imagine even the most jaded movie script including suicide by lion.

Life has imitated science fiction for many years, from rocket travel to artificial intelligence.  In fact George Orwell’s “1984” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” were, I guess, social-science fiction books that speak to thought control (Facebook?) and constant monitoring by the government (cameras everywhere in cities, cell phones being monitored…) 

Life imitates art in good ways too, of course.  It doesn’t often make the news, however. 

I don’t want to make too big a deal out of all this.  Rumor has it that there is a mole hill somewhere that might be made into a mountain, if we’re not careful.



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Filed under 2016

History of Humor

One of the many ubiquitous GEICO insurance ads involves a couple on a date. When the woman says everybody knows about GEICO, the man says, “But, did you know that there IS an oldest trick in the book?”

At that point, we switch to a castle scene where a young apprentice is learning from an old teacher, who looks in his book and says: “Trick number one: Lookest over there!” The boy looks, and sees nothing. Then the old teacher says, “Ha-ha! Madest thou look! So endeth the trick.”

That got me thinking about humor through the ages, going back to early humans. So much of humor is based on the nervousness we feel when someone violates certain taboos about sex, and such, that I wondered what would be funny in a society with no taboos? I mean, if you’re already running around naked and using the woods as a bathroom, what would be funny?

“America’s Funniest Videos” may have the answer. Their formula is videos of people doing stupid things that make them crash, fall down, be terrified, or fall into the water – or a wedding cake.

Early humans may have found it funny when Zor tripped over a tree root. Or maybe it was funny when Grog threw his spear at an elk, but accidentally hit Thon in the leg.

Laughing is such a natural thing to us. Even young babies chuckle. I wonder, though, who was the first person to laugh, and what did they laugh at, and what did the other humans think about it?

Let’s say Frop and Clon are walking along, and Frop runs into a tree. Somewhere in his body, Clon feels the urge to laugh, and he does. Frop gets up from the ground, and says the primitive human version of, “What kind of weird sound is that you just made? Are you sick?” Clon can only shrug.

Maybe there became secret societies of laughers who got together deep in the woods to do pratt falls and funny faces so they could laugh in safety, beyond the suspicious eyes of the non-laughers. Perhaps those secret societies spawned the genetics that eventually gave us comedians.

As time went on, and language became more sophisticated – not to mention people wearing clothes and going to the bathroom in private – I’m sure humor naturally developed. Some possible examples: “Gee Charles, you seem to have forgotten your codpiece.” Or, “Phillip, have you seen Lady Gwendolyn, whom rumor says is faster than the many hours it would take to remove the 37 layers of over and undergarments in which she is dressed?” Not thigh slappers, but maybe funny back then.

Now it seems that many comedians rely on the shock value of vulgar language, but I prefer those who tell amusing stories or reflect on human characteristics. And yet, watching someone (as long as it isn’t me) get hit in the “swimsuit area” by a three year-old with a bat is actually very funny. I guess there’s a little bit of cave man left in me.

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Filed under 2014

All Groan Up

Sometimes the news of the day is so troubling, depressing, and infuriating that I just tune-out, and busy myself with other things. I know it’s probably shirking my duty as a citizen not to grab a sign and march in the streets, but after all, it is still winter.

So, I listen to music, read escapist fiction, and seek out comedy. Television comedy can be pretty good, but most of it is not much more than suggestive humor that gets cheap laughs. Not that I’m above that, but real, quality comedy comes from a well-constructed joke.

I’m fortunate to have satellite radio and the several comedy channels it offers. A lot of the jokes are about the same topics: air travel, marriage, kids, cell phones, and other predictable themes. I don’t often actually laugh at the comedians, but many of them are pretty good.

I’ve always liked jokes. The first one I made up was: “What do you do when your foot gets stuck in the mud? Call a toe truck.” I think I was five. Jokes that have plays on words, or that make you think a little are among my favorites. For example, Demitri Martin says the worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades. He also points out that the phrase “I’m sorry” and “I apologize” mean the same thing, unless you’re at the receiving line at a funeral home.

Woody Allen, back in the 1960’s, talked about how he and his first wife weren’t getting along very well, and they decided that they should either go on a vacation to the Bahamas, or get a divorce. They figured that the vacation would be over in two weeks, while the divorce is something they could share forever.

A couple of my favorites: A man walks into the break room at work. His friend says, “Bob, you look really tired.” Bob explains that he’d been up most of the night playing poker with his dog. “Wow! Your dog must be really smart,” says his friend. “No, not really. Every time he has a good hand he wags his tail.”

A man leaves a bar late at night, and comes across a grasshopper on the sidewalk. “Hey,” he says, “I just had a drink named after you.” The grasshopper responds, “You had a drink named Irving?”

There are a lot of jokes about bars, like the one about the horse who walks into a tavern, and the bartender says, “Say pal, why the long face?” Or, the classic: a priest, a lawyer, and a rabbi walk into a bar, and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of a joke?”

Most people have one or two jokes they can remember, and a hundred they wish they could. I mostly remember jokes when I’m reminded of one in conversation. So, I have the annoying habit of inserting “funny” remarks without provocation. I don’t have a lot of friends.

Reader’s Digest has always maintained that Laughter is the Best Medicine, and I think they’re right. Even if it isn’t really medicinal, if you’re going to feel bad, you might as well feel good while you’re doing it. And, you might even find out why the chicken went halfway across the road. (She wanted to lay it on the line.)

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Filed under 2013

A Great Big Simile

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Filed under 2009

Let’s Go Parking!

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Filed under 2008