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!


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