Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Puns Not Pills in 2009 by Mickey Z.

A gymnast walks into a bar…hits his head. What’s funny to you? Does Chris Rock make you laugh or do you prefer the Three Stooges? Witty puns or slapstick? Sight gags or New Yorker cartoons? Fart jokes or Lenny Bruce? Laughter is universal. Everyone laughs…except maybe Leonard Nimoy. When it comes to what produces laughter, well, that’s a different story. After all, Jerry Lewis is revered as a genius in France. In Italy, Roberto Benigni packs ‘em in. We Americans have yet to fully explain Andrew Dice Clay. Obviously, humor can be a matter of opinion. And comedic opinions fluctuate widely. Duck walks into a bar and says: “I’m feelin’ down.” Describing what comedy does to us often has a decidedly humorless tinge. A good joke can be side-splitting and might crack you up, leave you in stitches or in tears…it could double you over or have you busting a gut. “You’re killing me,” we shout to the stand-up comic who has reduced us to putty…as the involuntary, simultaneous contraction of fifteen facial muscles occurs in tandem with a rhythmic series of noises. “Laughter is a reflex,” says journalist Arthur Koestler, “but unique in that it serves no apparent biological purpose; one might call it a luxury reflex.” One might…but one usually doesn’t. A lawyer passes the bar… Children laugh, on average, 400 times a day. For adults, the number is 15. So, it doesn’t matter what makes you laugh…but that you laugh. Doctors Gael Crystal and Patrick Flanagan call laughter “a form of internal jogging that exercises the body and stimulates the release of beneficial brain neurotransmitters and hormones.” Endocrinologist Stanley Tan has found that humor and exercise trigger “similar physiological processes,” i.e. releasing neuro-hormones that act “like an orchestra, each instrument makes a particular note. Laughter makes the entire orchestra more melodious or balanced. In other words, laughter brings a balance to all the components of the immune system.” In America, every house or apartment comes with a medicine chest…but a whoopee cushion is extra. I say we start a new movement to help recapture all those missing laughs…we’ll call it “Puns Not Pills.” A blonde, a rabbi, a transvestite, and a nun all walk into a bar. The bartender asks: “What’s this, some kind of joke?”

A skeleton walks into a bar and asks for a beer and a mop.


I still have a head-clutter of the jokes that composed my shifting repertoire from the years I was a NY saloon bartender, a trade in which fast-laugh jokes are a survival necessity. I would never repeat aggressive or oppressive ones I'd heard. Here's part 1 of a naughty-yet-benign one:

*What's the difference between pussy and parlsey?*

(This is one of those three-parters in which a. the joker asks a question, b. his or her audience guesses an answer or says, "I don't know, what?" and then c. the joker delivers the one-line anwer/punchline.)

Well? Anybody?
You don't eat parsley.

(I cheated...but it seems so obvious now...)

See? A little naughty, but benign (not aggressive or racist/sexist) and in fact mutually beneficial, at least for two of however many approaches to sexuality you count.
You can look those up? Kinda wrecks the timing, no?
- Arch
PS: "NOBODY eats parsley!" is the way I knew it, barked on the heels of the audience's response. You see, it's an oral joke, both in delivery and in substance.
Literacy sucks
Submitted by ellwort on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 3:05am.

Literacy - only about four millennia old - has yielded (now-expiring) capitalism and its atrocities (among the more benign of which is this elevation of trashy crap to "bestseller" status"), established the hierarchies of oppression, including such elitist terms as "talent," and trashed much of the ability to communicate we get from our human inclination toward orality. I've read richer stuff on this blog than I've read in many ballyhooed books (Bridges of Madison County, anyone?). John Keats has won a place in the sacred canon of English literacy, but if you read the bio and thought about the time-equivalents, I bet you'd conclude that he'd be an avid blogger today.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty"---that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

You want somebody else to tell you what your truth is?

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swwet dreams, T&A

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