Just finished doing my homework for writing class. We’re currently covering a subject that my instructor feels that the advertising industry as a whole hasn’t done enough study of: writing funny commercials. I think that it’s kind of funny that she’s trying to tackle this issue. Humour, as we all know, is such a purely subjective thing. Why should one even bother trying to figure out what makes us laugh?
A prime example is me and my love for the music of “Weird Al” Yankovic. The population at large dismissed Weird Al as a novelty; someone who really doesn’t have any staying power on the global music stage. And yet, I can’t get enough of him. I get all tingly when I hear he’s working on a new album. I totally geek out when I see a new video of his. I just love “Weird Al” Yankovic.
In our lessons on writing humour, we’ve been told to avoid “inside jokes.” Yeah, all your friends may get it, but to the audience at large, it’ll be way over their heads. One time I was watching this episode of Law & Order, and I burst out laughing when Det. Lennie Brisco uttered the phrase “be our guest.” See, Brisco was played by Jerry Orbach, who did the voice of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, and what’s Lumiere’s big song? “Be Our Guest.” I thought it was hilarious. No one else did. Mainly because I was one of only 4 people on this planet who got the joke.
I don’t know why I find certain things so funny. Little things, like knowing a secret and teasing people with the knowledge you have. Not the teasing that you’re thinking of. Things like, “I know a secret and I’m not telling!” God, that drives people insane, and I can’t help but giggle when I see the reaction it creates.
An incredibly dry wit drives me wild. I was once asked what was wrong with me when I spent a whole evening watching reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. Made in Canada had such a dry wit that it took me several dozen episodes to get into it. But once I did, it was one of the funniest shows I’d ever seen.
So, conducting analyses of humour is utterly pointless. I’ll never be able to nail down exactly what I find funny, and I’ll never figure out why you find it so funny. But, I do now enough to get my homework in on time and manage to eek out a passing grade.
No matter how much of a joke my life is.