An old column that I wrote about dogs caused a kerfuffle. Some wrote to the Times to praise my effort but most loudly criticized it…as did one woman who ranted and raged with all the bile of a deranged Hobbit!
Anyhoo, many begged the question, “what is funny?”
Well funny they should ask because ‘funny’ is subjective, a matter of taste.
For example, years ago, Brenda and I went to see “Airplane” which was then a ‘must see’ comedy. While most of the audience killed themselves laughing, we just sat and shook our heads at how anyone could laugh at such cheesy humour. We didn’t see the follow up because the first didn’t agree with us; it wasn’t our cup of tea.
I love young people and once at a party, I had a discussion with five young guys about who is and isn’t funny.
I asked which of the following comics: Chris Rock, Jim Carey, Robin Williams, Will Farrell and Dave Chapelle were funny. The results were that five of five young men found the often offensive Chapelle funny but the other comics only scored three of five votes on the chuckle meter.
When they asked my opinion, I answered that Chris, Jim and Robin were funny for about fifteen minutes, then they tended to grate on me….I felt however that Farrell was a step up because of his classic “Cowbell” bit on SNL….it wrecks me every time I see it….and Chapelle is simply the best!
So the humour of Rock, Carey, Williams and Farrell is hit or miss with a sampling of today’s youth. Do you agree?
Now let’s go back a few years and do the same with comic pioneers. Are Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Lucy and Jackie Gleason funny?
I’ll wait to hear from you but here’s my take….Berle was annoying and Skelton was as corny as a can of ‘peaches and cream’. Benny and Lucy were often brilliant but fell short of the “Large One”, Jackie Gleason who was the best of the lot…a comic genius.
Would Jackie’s close fisted threats to punch wife Alice “right in the kisser” be offensive today however? Anyway, Gleason could get intense emotion and reaction out of his expressive puss without uttering a word…his mind and body were funny, his mannerisms were classic and his characterizations were brilliant. Oldtimers should thank god they lived to see his sparkling gift….even tough he’d be offensive by today’s standards.
Moving on, was the Monty Python Show funny?… many say yes but think about how often the Python’s put us thru bloody boring hell for long stretches but managed to rescue the show with a brilliant ‘bit’ that we couldn’t wait to tell all our friends about… ‘bits’ like, dead parrots, silly walks or elegant fish slapping. Was their ‘Life of Brian’ movie offensive to Christians? Is the nature of humour offensive?
Anyway, I submitted the “dog ditty” for the simple reason that I thought it was funny but knowing that humour is hit or miss. So if my latest didn’t work for you, then maybe next time. But if my stuff is never to your taste…then nibble on something else!
P.S. I’m changing my name to Dennis as in ‘menace’.
P.P.S. the answer to my main question is that the best humour always offends something or someone….so I think I’ll sometimes keep on the edge…even if I fall into the abyss.
Tags: Chris Rock, Robin Williams