Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A-to-Z Challenge 2014 - Amusement

(Warning: Containts Adult Language)

I participated in this challenge last year on the spur of the moment and had a great time. I didn't exactly have a theme and although I have one this year, it is broad in scope; I picked “HUMOR AND HUMORISTS” because I am a “pantser” in that I write by the seat of my pants, seldom edit, and just go with whatever comes into my head. This can be terrific if one has a good grasp of vocabulary and sentence structure and can write essays or mediocre short stories fairly quickly. It sucks when you write novels; believe me. I am the voice of experience in this. I have a great novel on paper and a great novel running around in my head; however, they are not the same book. I just haven't worked up the gumption to sit my happy ass down in my writing chair and put them together. I've been too busy lolling about in my gaming chair, which is the same chair, by the way, as my writing chair, playing Runescape and giving people hell, who deserve having hell given them, to do any editing, but that is neither here nor there and has nothing whatsoever to do with humor, but is one HELL of a run-on sentence, which should be avoided at all costs, which if I were teaching English grammar, I would admonish my students to avoid. But, I digress. Still. Damn! My mother, the English teacher would have been proud of the above , right there!

Just what does make us amused? By amused, I mean of course, what makes us laugh and tickles our funny bones? I think it is fair to say that a sense of humor is almost as personal as a person's concept of what faith they follow or why they vote a certain way. There is no general formula for a sure-fire laugh-getter and I find, at least in my case, the more obvious the joke, the more stale and failed the attempt becomes.

                                                                                                    courtesy: blog.pavelife.com

I think, that certain forces come into play when it comes to things that make us laugh. Universality for one. One of the reasons people like a comedian like Bill Cosby, or Jim Gaffigan are funny, although they are completely different is that we can relate to them. Bill Cosby used to do stand-up about his childhood and it resonated with every kid I knew growing up in the 60s. Jim Gaffigan and his absurdities with “Hot Pockets” is just as funny, because it is absurd, just in his voicing of it. 

                                                                                               courtesy: thrillist.com                                                                          
Some people are just bowled over by physical comedy, which more sophisticated comedians in the 30s, 40s and 50s dismissed as low-brow, but I defy anyone to not laugh at the stupidities presented on America's Home Videos. I will also sit down and watch the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, who are screamingly funny, to this day, and the physical comedy of Chevy Chase, particularly his “Fletch” series. Woody Allen's earliest movies combined sophisticated angst, Freudian dread with slapstick in a way that has never been paralleled.

courtesy: clclt.com

"Love and Death" by Woody Allen is a great movie and a huge joke on Russian Literature; from Pushkin to Gogol to Chekhov, no one got out of this movie unscathed! This is a reference to Dostoyoevsky's "The Idiot"

But what of more sophisticated comedians and humorists? George Carlin was probably the best of those, as profane as he could be. He was also taught by Jesuits, as was Bill Maher and myself; I have found that anyone with any kind of Jesuitical background, (maybe it's something in the rarefied atmosphere) leaves us with a playfulness for the language, which does take a certain flair to appreciate. Be that as it may, I appreciate a good pun, which as my long-suffering mother used to say to my father whenever he came up with some tin-eared horror, “Glenn Wallace, enough pun-ishment!” And so it goes.

Randomness and random anything cracks me up. Stuff that just pops up out of the blue will have me on the floor rolling around, holding my sides in a red-hot minute. When I was homeless, I had two roommates, and one had already gone to bed, and I was already in bed. The third was getting ready for bed, and I heard her say, “Okay, I'm going to eat this turkey now, and go to sleep!” I laughed like a hyena for 15 minutes. She finally walked into my little cubby-hole to find out what was so funny. I wiped the tears from my eyes. “You're eating a turkey? At 11 o'clock at night?” She looked at me and snorted. “A cookie, you asshole.” Off I went again. “I liked it the other way.”

Amusement is to be found in stunts in movies. I love Jackie Chan movies. I have never seen such well-timed or closely-executed stunts in moves, save “A Fish Called Wanda,” with people disappearing in the nick of time, behind doors, into closets underneath sinks, all while the unsuspecting person is kept completely in the dark as to their presence! It's a marvel to behold, while you're laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole preposterous plot.

With Owen Wilson as some kind of Zen-Surfer-Cowboy. Can't miss.
The last are the authors and writers that have amused me, past and present. I have admired Robert Brockway at Cracked.com for years and we have struck up some sort of passing-back-and-forth-of-Tweets-and-snarky-notes-thing,-that-doesn't-really-qualify-as-a-friendship,-but-more-of-an-awareness-of-one- another-thing. I will be honoring him with a post on my letter “B” whether he likes it or not. I haven't told him yet, because, as per usual, I didn't get around to it. I am sure he won't mind. I think. He is one HELL of a writer and a very funny man and I truly, truly respect him and his craft! Have a great and fun, A-to-Z challenge, 2014 everyone!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Viola .. we used to sit for hours watching cartoon movies our father brought home for us .. Mickey Mouse, Charlie Chaplin et al .. we laughed ourselves silly - just loved them. Today I can't stand many - but thankfully we're all different ..

Cheers Hilary

D Biswas said...

Physical comedy leaves me cold, but there are sophisticated comedians who can make physical comedy mean so much more.

Great start to the challenge, Mary.

Anna Tan said...

You crack me up, Mary!

I still prefer puns and witticisms to physical comedy - those must be really funny (and not just gross) to make me laugh.

anna @ Deeply Shallow

Aditi said...

The way you write certainly amusea me. There has to be a certain class in comedy which very few have found till date in physical comedy. In India there has been a growing trend of stand up comedians in the recent years but none of them actually stand out for me!

Andrea said...

Ooops, I got distracted feeding the fish...it amused me as well! ;)

Julie Cunningham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Cunningham said...

Thanks for the reminder that I do have a sense of humor.... sometimes! :)

Julie @ Julie 2 Jules
A= Eating on Autopilot

Vidya Sury said...

I just loved this Mary! I love comedy and love subtle stuff especially the double entendre and the straight-faced humor!

What fun. Love puns.

Vidya Sury
Rocking Team Damyanti
A to Z Challenge
The ABCs of Living with Type 2 Diabetes

Viola Fury said...

Hillary! I laughed out loud at that. I still find myself guffawing over Warner Brothers cartoons, but don't think much of the modern stuff either. It's too simplified, but then, here's a secret. Warner Brothers and those earl cartoons were never meant for kids! So, we can just laugh away at them, as we please! Thanks for stopping by! Mary

Viola Fury said...

Damyanti, I agree with you and sophomoric humor, or juvenile humor is not funny to me at all. Sometimes, humor within a serious movie will sneak in and get you, too. We were watching the Clint Eastwood movie "The Unforgiven" where he plays a reformed gun-slinger, who goes on one last job. He has to ride a horse that he wasn't very nice to apparently prior, but he has changed his ways.

Well, every time he tries to get up on this animal, it shies, bucks and side-steps him. He keeps telling Morgan Freeman, his partner, "I used to cuss and say bad words, but my dear, dead wife Claudia showed me that was wrong; I don't do that no more." All the while trying to get on this horse...

In one scene, all you can see is a part of the horse's body and neck and hear Morgan Freeman say "Shit, Will!" (Eastwood) then Clint Eastwood's legs go up and and hit the ground and he hollers "Down!" like he's talking to a dog to make it sit. The horse is pretty much a running gag throughout the movie.

I had forgotten this scene, but it's the timing and the juxtaposition; subtle and yet, physical and absolutely a gut-buster, in an otherwise very serious movie about the nature of commitment and good and evil.

Nevertheless, there are some truly funny bits in this movie and the physical comedy blends in well with the dialog. Thanks for stopping by, Damyanti! Always a pleasure and I'm having so much fun! Thank you so much!

Viola Fury said...

Anna! I love puns and witticisms! They are probably the bread and butter of humor. That and just plain random weirdness. That being said, my father was much like Arlee Bird when he would come up with some of the world's worst puns. The thing that made him so funny, is that he always, always laughed. I don't care if it was the first time he told it, or the 1000th. It elicited gales of laughter from him and we always joined him. Thanks so much for stopping by, Anna! Mary

Viola Fury said...

Hi Aditi! Thank you for your kind words. I try to be amusing, but I usually am just reacting to the world around me. My parents were pretty funny. I think my humor is mostly reactive; I'm kind of like a one-liner, just looking for a stage.

We have tons of stand up comedians in this country and very few will stand the test of time and become iconic. But that's the mark of greatness, I suppose. I thank you for visiting today, Aditi! Mary

Viola Fury said...

Hi Andrea! Ha ha! I play with them every time I'm prrof, er I mean, proof-reading! I'm so glad you stopped by! Mary

Viola Fury said...

Hi Julie! A sense of humor is an absolute necessity. If you ever go back and read the history of my blog, you'll find more disasters, catastrophes, blunders and heartbreak, along with the triumphs, wins and spectacular successes I've experienced in 58 years than anyone should have to expect in twice that amount of time. I wouldn't be where I am without a sense of humor. It's like some cosmic joke, but, that's life! Thanks for stopping by. Mary

Viola Fury said...

Hi Vidya! I love straight-faced humor. I love messing with people and then having them look at me, like "Are you for real, or are you just totally out of your mind?" The real answer is, both.

Subtle humor, double entendres are great and what is really funny, is that I'm not stupid, but I'm pretty linear and often-times, I won't get that double meaning for several minutes. I'm like that one guy at the party who laughs 5 minutes after everyone else has gotten the joke and moved on. I don't care. I've long since ceased to be embarrassed about my faux pas! Thanks for stopping by, Vidya! Mary

Donna Sexton said...

I really enjoy reading your writing. I'm amazed by people who can write pages and it all comes together.

D.J. said...

It's funny. It's seems like everyone has a theme and they know what categories to place themselves in. I didn't catch on quite as quickly, but I hope that next year I can do better. :)

Andi-Roo TheWorldForRealz said...

I absolutely love your theme, and this is a great kick-start to the whole thing. It never occurred to me that Amusement is personal, but that makes total sense. Someone trying to explain why Adventure Time is hilarious is as silly as me trying to explain why Napoleon Dynamite hits my funny bone just so. My hubz loves spoof comedies like Airplane, and I will always be partial to Ghostbusters and Young Frankenstein {"Put. the candle. back." <-- Huh. Second time I've referenced that line during this challenge!} I also enjoy twisted comedies like Inglorious Basterds, or office-related comedies like Horrible Bosses, or religious comedies like the movie Saved! And although you have to force me to sit down and watch it, I must admit that even Adam Sandler cracks me up. Shoot,I'm all over the dang board!

Kristen Dyrr said...

I'm loving your theme. Loved that you brought up Bill Cosby -- he was one of my faves when I was younger. My faves right now are sci-fi comedy, such as The Neighbors. In my opinion, one of the best movies of all time is Time Bandits. That's because I'm a sci-fi freak. :)

Random Musings from the KristenHead — A is for 'Almost Human' (and Action and Androids)