Judge Not the Lowly Pun


Did I scare you? No?

Oh well. All I really wanted was to make you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. And it is a great aphrodisiac. Doesn’t everyone want to be with someone who can make you laugh?

We learn to laugh before we speak.

I hear that humor is really about surprise. It’s what we didn’t see coming. The wrong face at the window. The pie in the face.

Surprise! And we laugh.

It’s good to be surprised.

When tension gets high people might get brittle. They might snap. That kind of tension is the perfect setup for a joke. Tautness could pivot just as easily into laughter–a cathartic release that sets things in motion.

If tension is close to laughter, then the opposite of laughter is not tragedy. Tragedy is a state of heightened sensitivity. If I am stretched tight, I can ping in any direction. But when there is no hum, no vibration at all, then nothing will make me laugh.

I’ve been there. Numb and sleepy and monotonous. That’s a sorry state indeed.  When I remember myself enough to know I’m in that state, I recognize a red alert. And then I worry about myself and maybe cry. And if I cry right, I end up laughing at myself.

There are a lot of kinds of humor. Me, I don’t judge. If a fart joke gets the biggest laugh for you then go for it. I tend to have a darker sense of humor.

Google tells me that Aristotle takes humor pretty seriously. I found this quote from him:

Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.

I wonder if the original Greek was as obtuse as the translation? Still, I agree with his idea here. If something is worth thinking about, it’s worth making a joke about. I suppose people could argue about which is the lowest form of humor: bodily functions vs. puns. Body functions is just life. And puns are language. If our bodies are precious and our language is important they be strong enough to be poked at.

If my life is worthwhile I better laugh at it, and surprise myself.