"Humor is mankind's greatest blessing." - Mark Twain
"You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it." - Bill Cosby
"The secret to humor is surprise." - Aristotle
What is funny?
I know, I know, a lot of things are funny. But let's go a little deeper. What is funny? What does it mean to be funny? How do you know if something/someone/you is/are funny?
I posted several things to my personal Facebook page today. One was a picture of me 25 years ago, my senior photo in the West Point yearbook. That one got a lot of likes and comments. I also linked a picture of a license plate that is cool and geeky, and a photo of my scardy-dog Chihuahua cuddling with her little stuffed unicorn as comfort from the storm.
But the two links with the most attention? Funny ones. One was a video of cats doing funny things in and around water. The second was the Geico commercial whose punchline mentions the happiness of a camel on Wednesday while in the background you see the camel walking through the office asking people what day it is and, in the end, saying Hump Dayyyyy!
Why is a camel walking through a set of cubicles funny?
Hold that thought for a moment. Last night my wife and I watched a curious event on America's Got Talent. Kevin Downey Jr., a comedian, took the stage, and I rather enjoyed the minute and a half of his show. Then the judges got hold of it, and I saw the biggest split in them that I've seen so far (to be honest, I've only caught a few episodes thanks to the move). Two judges loved the show, while one judge didn't find him funny at all and the fourth didn't get it at all.
That got me to thinking about my own works. I specifically crafted some of my scenes to be funny. I know I nailed it with a couple, as I've read them quoted by some of my fans. That makes me happy.
But what is it about them that makes them funny? I suppose I've never really looked deeply at that.
One of the funniest commercials I think I've ever seen is the AT&T commercial with the kids sitting around the table when the little girl talks about werewolves. It's not a tremendously funny topic, but something about the way she holds her head and says, "Arrarrarrarrarrarr" gets me laughing hard every time.
But back to the camel. That really isn't a funny situation--heck, if I saw a camel walking through my work area, I'd call security. The camel's "voice" really doesn't say all that much that's funny, by itself, either. Somehow, though, the situation blends with what's said and with how it's said into one absurd bundle of humor.