Monday, August 15, 2005

On the Comedy Impaired

I haven't posted in a few days, and don't have time to finish the two or three I just started (not to mention the twenty or so old posts waiting to be completed); so I thought I'd just plagiarize something I wrote in the comments section over at Sadly, No! And if you already saw it over there, tough shit. It's your own damn fault for reading non-Biobrain blogs. If I thought you should read it, I would have written it here. Besides, I added a lot more to this, so you have no right to complain.

Sadly was writing about conservative bloggers and how godawfully unfunny they are. Not that I understand why he's picking on the bloggers, because the same goes for all conservatives (William F. Buckley excluded).

The main problem with conservative humor is that they confuse "it's funny because it's true" with "it's true because it's funny" and so they use humor as a means of conveying truth (or their version there of). And they consider it funny if you just insult the other side, whether or not it's true or funny; though they prefer anything that confirms stereotypes and generalities. And so truth and funniness become self-fulfilling items, each confirming the other. It's funny because it's true, and it's true because it's funny. But if you don't already agree with them, you won't find it to be funny or true.

Coulter and Limbaugh are perfect examples of that. You can't attack them for saying offensive stuff, because they were just joking. But the joke was a way of reinforcing certain truths which can't be said in a straight-forward manner. And so they get the best of both worlds: They can say anything they want, but without any accountability. And what's saddest of all is that the joke is always on their followers; but they never know it.

The Dreaded Sitcom

And I'll tell you what this reminds me of: The I Love Lucy school of comedy. You know, the stuff that's "funny" because you already know what's going to happen. When Lucy gets the job at the doughnut factory, you're laughing, not because it's necessarily funny, but because you can predict exactly what's going to happen and how Lucy will look when she's doing it. I'm speaking figuratively, of course; as no one actually laughs during a Lucy episode. And while the zany mayhem ensues, ending with the obligatory "waaahhh!", you're supposed to think to yourself "Ah, that Lucy. What a mess she got herself into again."

And to be honest, this is what "situation comedy" usually refers to anyway; that the characters got themselves into a completely predictable situation, the humor being the predictableness itself. Which is why I avoid all of them, excluding vintage Simpsons episodes. And people like this because it makes them feel comfortable: no surprises or thinking necessary. Of course, this goes against the nature of true comedy, which is premised in the unpredictable and surprise. But that's not what people want from their television comedies. They want the familiar and routine, to help make sense of the crazy world in which they live. How else can one explain Full House?

And conservative humor is a branch off of that tree. They're not laughing because it's predictable, per se. They're laughing because it confirms everything that they want to believe; and as such is quite predictable to them. And that's exactly what they're looking for: confirmation of their beliefs. And humor just helps the medicine go down.

For conservatives, the confirmation of something being true is that they laughed at it. But as I said before, they laugh because they already think it's true. And that's the conservative mode of reasoning in a nutshell. Everything must be self-confirming, because they sure as hell ain't getting any confirmation from the real world. Or at least, not with any manner of consistency. So their humor isn't an incidental flaw in their personality, but a defining characteristic that helps make them what they are. Were they to develop a genuine sense of humor, one which wasn't predicated on stereotypes and generalizations, they could no longer remain conservative. Their warped sense of humor goes hand-in-hand with their warped view of reality; each helping make sense of the other.

Oh, and in keeping with the theme of funny bloggers, I'll give my own favorite joke: Fart.

But that's copyrighted, so don't even think of using that without permission. Bwaa-ha-haa!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis! Although, its only natural that rightwing demagogues are attracting millions of drones like beetles to a dung...