As a person who is relatively knowledgeable about the world of comedy, I take a sort of personal, debilitating offense when people laugh at unfunny things. Now, I know that comedy, like all other art forms, is subjective. But we're not talking about whether you prefer Eric Idle to Mel Brooks here. No, we're talking about Dane Cook and $#!* My Dad Says, about Epic Movie and 90% of internet memes. For example, have you ever told a five minute story with a somewhat amusing conclusion, and the person you tell it to laughs and says you should do stand-up? That person is part of the problem that I am trying to fix here tonight. Funny is a sacred thing, and I refuse to have it sullied by the following ten items.
Anything You Say "That's Funny" To
If you say "That's Funny", you aren't laughing. I don't see how that point can be any more salient. But I yam what I yam, so I'll try.
I am not saying you have to be laughing for something to be funny. Nor am I saying that anything that you laugh at is funny. Funny is a beautiful, ephemeral thing that can't quite be pinned down. Despite that, if you had to think about it so long the timing is off, and you no longer have that guttural reaction, but simply an awareness of it's potential for amusement, that's bullshit. That isn't funny. That's interesting. Funny hits you in the stomach and you curl over.
Exception: You may say "That's funny." with that stress, in that context, when trying to convince someone that something is funny. I obviously don't mean that. I mean instead of laughing. Jerk.
There are two kinds of dirty words: Useful Dirty Words and Great Dirty Words (UDW and GDW from now on, cause we're pretending it's science). Is there an Funny DW in that list? No, no there is not. Just Useful and Great. Never Funny. At least not after puberty.
UDWs come up in conversation of a dirty nature. When you're trying to indicate another's genitalia, or possibly your own, but not sound like a wuss, UDWs like dick and tits can be quite handy. Nothing kills the mood like "Do you think my phallus will stay betwixt your labia at this particular angle?"
GDWs are a different ballgame. There are some words that are just fantastic to say. The infamous F word is a pretty popular example, but there are even better ones out there. Like twat. What is an absolutely fantastic word. Twat isn't funny. It's just great. Just say it a few times. Doesn't that feel spectacular? It baffles me that anyone dislikes that word.
That Thing That Happened To You The Other Night
Yeah, you know the story I'm talking about. That shit ain't funny. That's not even a 'you had to be there' situation. Everyone who was there agrees: that shit ain't funny.
And nobody understands this. A story can have only so many purposes. They can be informative, helpful, interesting, absurd, relevant somehow, and of course, funny. But these stories are never any of those things. There are neurons in your brain firing deliberate signals that this story is the greatest thing you will ever tell, and you won't notice until you realize there's no punchline that there is nothing even remotely funny about it.
Fun example. The other day, I was going to go over to 7-11. I needed some smokes, but I couldn't find my shoes. And I looked around for my shoes, and I couldn't find them. Then I found them and headed over to 7-11. But I realized halfway there, they weren't the shoes I nobody has ever cared ever about anything that has happened to you ever and you should cry yourself to sleep every single night for the rest of your life, starting RIGHT NOW.
The Word 'Gay'
This will be brief. The word gay isn't funny. There's really nothing funny about it. If you want to use the word gay for any number of reasons, go ahead! It's got a lot of wonderful definitions. But if you're just saying "Man, that shit is so gay" and expecting raucous laughter and a standing ovation, please go to a dark alley and wait patiently. Someone will arrive to take care of you shortly.
Quotes Of Things That Are Funny
Now, this is a very difficult one for me to accept, but after years of trying, I know it's true. And it breaks my heart every single day. Because I spent at least a year of time I should have spent being a child watching every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus over and over. Unfortunately, the fact that I know every single line of the Argument Sketch is completely useless to me. The furthest I can ever go is "Hey, wasn't the Argument Sketch great?" Because the moment you try to quote it, not only do you screw it up, but you probably ruin it for your audience forever.
Lesson learned for me. I don't remember anything anymore. I don't even know what I'm writing about anymore. I just know I have all eleven minutes of Weird Al's Albuquerque in my head nobody interested in hearing me recite it. It's like brain cancer, only it makes me want to sing/rant an obnoxiously long song/rant rather than die horribly.
Okay, this might make some people mad. I really, really love Sports Night. I loved it when it was on, and I just started rewatching it on netflix. And I gotta tell you, when I put on the pilot, and I realized the show had a laugh track, I was flabbergasted. I have never, in my life, heard a more awkward, out of place, doesn't know what to do with itself laugh track. Because the show isn't funny.
Sports Night is an incredibly smart show. It's an incredibly intelligent show. It is also an incredibly depressing show. Every single moment of humor in that show should result in no more than a sad muffled laugh echoing in a giant empty ballroom. I laugh, but it's mostly just to keep from crying. It's a drama. I suppose he realized it, and made Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. But then nobody watched that either. You're never happy, are you, television viewers?
Yemen. Was that funny? Kitchen. Hamster. Spontaneous Combustion. Cock. Am I being funny yet? Cause I don't get it. Dynastic opposition. I'm clearly missing something.
Okay, I don't know how this got started, because I never saw the Three Stooges where Moe told Curly's big secret to Larry and they all stood around and looked at each other for a while. I think reality television had a big part in it, though. Reality TV screws everything up.
Remember earlier when I said that not all laughter is from funny? Awkward is not funny. It's awkward. That's why it's called an awkward laugh. You are laughing because you are uncomfortable with the situation and don't know what else to do. Not because it's funny.
Granted, some people straddle the awkward/funny line like a confused homeless 16 year old on a strip-club-owner-slash-sex-offender that looks like their daddy. But it's not for everyone. And it's certainly got no place on reality TV, where it seems to be the only form of comedy they are capable of. Or drama, for that matter. Pretty much all reality TV is just straight up uncomfortable.
I don't mean to single you out, Frank. Okay, I totally do. You do impressions. You did it to yourself.
Impressions are one of those things that are hard to fuck up. You just have to sound like the person you're imitating, and then say things that might be funny if he said them. Often, you don't even have to sound like them. Well, I have a startling confession to make to you, Frank.
Never in the history of my watching you, of which at least 60% was a repeating commercial for his TV show a week when I was diseased and bedridden, I have never known who you were pretending to be unless the person's name was written underneath you. I want to clarify on this point. Despite your different voice, despite your different wig and clothes, possibly because of your exact same constipated posture and smug face, I literally could not tell the difference. Sometimes, it took me a second after I read the name, because your impression had brought me so far in another direction that I was wondering if there was third, unrelated George Bush. And that's, like, the easiest one. My two year old nephew can do that. And he still shits himself.
A Note For Frank Caliendo (and no one else): If this section has offended you, I apologize. I really don't mean to single you out. You're probably a really nice guy. And I really don't remember you particularly vividly in anything but that commercial. But it played, like, five thousand times, and it was really obnoxious. I'm sure your show is very good, or if it is not on anymore, was very good. But that commercial… it stuck with me, man. I don't remember my mom's name sometimes, yet I didn't even have to look your talentless ass up. So, I guess, good job on the name recognition, even if it's because you annoyed me so hard I dreamed of you dying horribly for a year.
Other People's Problems
I, personally, am down with other people's problems. That shouldn't be surprising, considering the previous information you may have compiled about me. But while sometimes someone else's misery is chuckle-worthy, would you want someone laughing at you in the same situation? I hate to sound like your mother (considering, from all the jokes I've heard, she sounds fat and slutty), but the fact is that the golden rule applies. And, while "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you" has a nice ring to it, it's a far too optimistic statement. I much prefer "Don't dish out what you can't take."
See, that's the problem. I've got no issue of making fun of other people. Obviously. But I earned that right by using my powers for good. Sure, you may be offended by what I have to say, or it may hit home, but if you did the same thing to me, I'd be right there laughing with you. The other day, someone said my face looked like a ferret got caught in a terrifying mask making machine. I laughed and told him fortunately, no animals were hurt in the making of my busted face, except for the ones that looked directly at it for too long. And we both laughed, and everyone was happy.
If that was how the world worked all the time, war wouldn't exist, all religions would coexist peacefully, and Chuck Norris would fade from existence like Marty McFly.
Disclaimer: I know OPP does not stand for other people's problems. It works here, and the fact is that 'other people's pussy' is completely hilarious, so that wouldn't work at all..
Okay, so whether or not you think this article is funny, I'm here to tell you I am being 100% serious. None of these things are funny, and I take comedy very seriously. It may be the only thing I'm capable of taking seriously, because if you take comedy as seriously as I do, everything else has to be a joke.
So stop laughing at things that don't deserve your laughter. Comedy is something you earn, and laughter is something you buy with blood, sweat and tears. And that's basically all you can buy with them, cause bodily fluids are really difficult to exchange for cash at the airport. Vote with your laughter for the things that are really, truly funny. It's the only way you'll ever get more.