02 November 2010

A Blog Off post: what makes me laugh

The following post is part of a biweekly blogospheric happening called a Blog Off. In a Blog Off, bloggers from all walks of life write about the same subject. The topic for this Blog Off is: What makes you laugh? Blog Off topics are left vague intentionally so that participants can run freely with their musings. If you'd like more information on the Blog Off, check out the website. At the end of this post will appear a table with links to all of the participating blogs and that table's repeated on the main Blog Off site. So excuse me while I take a break from my niche (again) and throw it all out there.

I have a good sense of humor. I think so anyhow but when this topic came up I had to really think about what it is that makes me laugh. For starters, and as the cartoon above suggests, The New Yorker makes me laugh. I've been reading that magazine for more than half my life and it's never failed to make me think and it's never failed to make me laugh.

New Yorker cartoons and indeed the whole magazine require that its readers have a pretty specific frame of reference. Getting the humor makes me feel smart and I like that. So smart is an important quality in the things that make me laugh.

I think it's that combination of thinking and laughing that has all the ingredients I need to be amused. Slapstick humor's usually lost on me and please please please don't make me sit through anything involving Ben Stiller or Jim Carey.

One of my new-ish internet finds that never fails to leave me in stitches is My First Dictionary.

My First Dictionary takes its lead from the children's readers I grew up with but the similarities stop there. The vocabulary words have a definite adult slant and the examples usually involve some kind of horrrific situation told in a sing-songy way.

I love the absurdity, irreverence and menace of My First Dictionary. So add those three qualities to smart in what makes me laugh.

I first saw the movie Citizen Ruth in 1996 when it was in limited theatrical release. It was an absolute fluke that I ended up seeing it in the first place and Citizen Ruth has become one of my favorite comedies of all time.

The genius behind Citizen Ruth went on to make three more films and Alexander Payne's film work forms the back bone of my movie collection.

After Citizen Ruth, Payne made Election in 1999.

Election starred Matthew Broderick and a then-unknown Reese Witherspoon in a little film about a high school student council election that no one under the age of 30 can possibly understand.

His next film, About Schmidt, came out in 2002 and starred Jack Nicholson and Cathy Bates. About Schmidt is about growing old and relies on the absurdity of aging for its humor.

His latest, Sideways, came out in 2004. Alexander Payne won the Oscar for best writing, adapted screenplay for the movie.

It took the idea of the buddy picture, the road picture and two ammoral anti-heroes and came up with something all together new. It's as if id and ego go away together for a weekend and it's brilliantly hilarious.

So smart makes me laugh. Along with absurdity, irreverence, vague menace and real life. Plenty of other things make me laugh too. I love to sit around a table after dinner and laugh with friends. Kevin, Brandon, JD, Bob, Rick and a handful of others never fail to keep me in stitches.

My nieces and nephews make me laugh and the fact that there are 22 of of them is funny in and of itself.

All in all, humor for me is something I have to be in front of to recognize a lot of times. It's difficult for me to list the things I find humorous. Much harder than I thought it would be when I found out about this topic a week ago. Try it some time. To that end, what makes you laugh?

There's a table that will appear magicially with all of the participants in this week's Blog Off. Check back through out the the day to see who's weighing in on this weighty topic.


  1. I've often been accused of having a Aspergian sense of humor because idiot comedy like What About Mary and Animal House can't make me crack a smile. Things like The Onion and JD make me laugh.

  2. An Aspergian sense of humor, I love it. I agree with you, JD kills me too.

  3. I often wonder how actors like Jim Carrey still get hired to do movies. "In-your-face" slapstick humour like that is so not funny to me. I like humour that you have to think about, or at least engages some part of your brain beyond the stem.

    BTW, as someone who writes for a living, I am a big fan of that first cartoon you've got up there today :)

  4. You nailed my humor! It has to have an "edge" to it. Can't wait to visit My First Dictionary.

  5. Well, I kinda thought I wouldn't be the only one to mention New Yorker cartoons in this blog off. I love them, too! I'm with you on most of what's called slapstick these days. I'm not crazy about most Jim Carey movies, but I think Will Farrell is even worse. I tried to watch Anchorman once and had to turn it off pretty quickly.

    I love My First Dictionary, Paul! I hadn't heard of that one before and will soon be spending too much time there, I'm sure.

  6. Laughter - What Mommy does in a high, shrill voice when she sees Daddy's friend in the taxi. Also filed under "maniacal laughter," which is what Mommy does as she throws Daddy's stuff out the window. Poor Mommy. So easily upset.
    Very enjoyable post. Now go fold your fitted sheets.

  7. Paul: another ripping topic and your post made me laugh. My First Dictionary is priceless! must check that site. sounds a bit like the latest Jon Stewart book "Earth." Lots of visuals in the ten or so posts I've read so far; me too. and we all like dry humor - in my case, had to edit some tasteless humor... well, mostly anyway. thanks, PA, good fun! cindy @urbanverse

  8. Nim: That first New Yorker cartoon was for me, you and writers everywhere. No one suffers as thoroughly as a writer. No one.

    Susan: Thanks for the comment and welcome to K&RD. If humor doesn't have an edge it's not funny.

    Allison: I could have kept going with the list of comedians I don't think are funny but I had to stop myself. Will Farrell is not funny, I don't care what anybody says. My First Dictionary is a wonder. I subscribe to that feed and his updates are the highlights of my week.

    A: I love that First Dictionary above all others. At least among all the other I feel comfortable posting here.

    Cindy: Thanks for being such a good humored supporter of these Blog Offs!

  9. My wife and I saw all the movies you cited except “Citizen Ruth” and laughed like hell at all of them. Actually, she’s the one who makes me laugh the most, although I do have quick wit and cut up quite a bit every day of my life, pretty much. I suppose it’s just being with a kindred soul, but we have many times had sessions when we laughed so hard and so long that we ended up with sore ribs!

  10. Track down Citizen Ruth. It serves sacred cow for dinner.


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