Tuesday, November 15, 2005

So, is that a joke?

From The Times, an excerpt.

"Laughter and humour are also being studied for their effects on health. Research methods include using a tickle machine, and probing with electrodes to find the funny parts of the brain. Laughter, like stress, increases blood pressure and heart rate and changes breathing. But unlike stress, it reduces levels of chemicals circulating in the body. In one study, people's cortisol and adrenaline were reduced after watching a favourite comedy video for 60 minutes.

It's difficult to resist the logic of the happiness doctors. Stay in your Eeyore-ish bubble of existentialist angst and have a life that's short, sickly, friendless and self-obsessed. Or find a way to get happy, and long life, good health, job satisfaction and social success will be yours. You'd better start writing that gratitude letter now.


Men often complain about their wives' volatility. Now research confirms that women really are both happier and sadder. Positive and negative emotions are not polar opposites — you can have both in your life. Women experience more of all emotions except anger. First it was found that women experience twice as much depression as men. Next, researchers found that women report more positive emotion than men, more frequently and more intensely. It all points to men and women having a different emotional make-up. Cognitive psychologists say that men and women have different skills related to sending and receiving emotion. Women are expressive; men conceal or control their emotions. Women convey emotion through facial expression and communication; men express emotion through aggressive or distracting behaviour. Does the difference lie in biology, social roles or just women's willingness to report emotion? That's up for debate.

Which all comes down to ???

Women love the Men of Humour!
Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.
Robin Williams and any au Pair.

So, forget all that free weights, fly weights, middle weights, kung fu, bugaboo, peekaboo, and poo poo pa dooh.

Hone those verbal skills to match the ready wit you've been hiding and get out there and woo without the boo-hoo.

Let us not forget to add DarkoV and his ever-loving wife to that list of couples!
I tried this many years ago but found that women did not care for the orange wig, big red nose, and huge shoes that are de rigeur for the whole humor thing.
Meanwhile, "rhzymy" - you really do hav eth ebest ones!
How does the Times explain the preponderance of angst-ridden people who have great senses of humor? It seems they indulge a false dichotomy, although the Times is nothing if not indulgent.

The emotional differences between men and women are biogenic -- albeit expressed through social conventions. The other two "theories" are both vague and hopelessly inadequate to the universality of the evidence. I'm not Laurence Summers, so you can't bring me up on charges.

My son makes the interesting point that most women CLAIM to want men with a sense of humor, but in fact often do not. In his experience, it is but a matter of months before The Glare begins to manifest itself when the fellow is cracking wise. Also, bursting into tears and saying, "You're making fun of me!" during some male attempt at levity is not uncommon. I refer to Men Vs Women: Emotional Differences above. I would also note that perhaps my son has lived in Ireland too long.
Mr. B. Mouse,
Your son (Blarney Mouse?) is wise beyond his (I don't know how many he has) years. That, or he's had way too much experience with the mis-named "fairer" sex. What they think they want and what they really want is a conundrum they go through daily, sometimes with their husbands/mates in tow.
My wife, in her pre-spouse days, was attracted (her words, not mine) by the collection of books and musical reproductions (vinyl at the time) I had. These days, she can't believe she still likes me, despite my collection of books and muscial reproductions (vinyl and cd). Maybe that thing about evolving rather than standing pat. I had a joke about that, but it's long dissipated into the atmosphere.
Well, there's humor and then there's humor -- the real thing.

Puns do not count, but a dry, intellectual wit? Irresistible!

Jokes are somewhat borderline and, to me, are rarely funny. Woody Allen, on the other hand, is brilliantly funny, but he’s also Woody Allen, alas, which somewhat negates the brilliant humor.

I have never met a professional comedian that I considered humorous. But I love to laugh. Real humor emanates unexpectedly from life, not from contrived situations.

Go figure.
Searchie, re.: "I have never met a professional comedian that I considered humorous.

Not a one? If I may pry, which comedians have you met that would have been so...non-comedic? Have you seen Jerry Seinfeld's The Comedian? Did any of that movie, specifically the additional stuff provided on the dvd that had Colin Quinn and Seinfeld doing a rolling commentary. Or the bit where Seinfeld describes a favorite, but a failure, of a joke as a bird that can't fly? Just wondering about your tastes. I loved Woody Allen's stuff up through "Hannah's Sisters". Then, it just got to be too much self-reverential idiosyncratic revivals of boredom. I don't think anyone has come to replace him either; I find myself forcibly laughing at some of the recent movies, rather than smiling as I had with Allen's earlier stuff.
Except, that is, for "The Comedian" and some of the Coens' offerings.
I would generally agree with Searchie that standup comedians are, in general, painfully unfunny. As are television sitcoms, especially those with laugh tracks: I feel as though I am being nudged sharply in the ribs by someone who has had way too much to drink.

Concerning the pun, I beg to differ. It is an art. Having said that, I would qualify by noting that the pun should rarely be an end in itself (unless utterly outrageous, and delivered out of the blue.) Punning should be done in passing, like tossing paper airplanes from an express train window. They get you no closer to your destination, they are not even noticed by most of the people along the way, but can raise a few smiles from the few who glimpse them briefly as they soar overhead.
Hmm ... Mr. Bleak and Donnie Darko can always make me laugh, so I'm not devoid of humor, apparently.

I guess part of my "issue" with standup comedians is that I don't watch television and thus am quite removed from casual contact with Jerry and company. Believe it or not, I've never seen Seinfeld. It's un-American, I know, but there you have it.

So Monsieur Bleak, please deliver a pun that will make me laugh.

And maybe the Coens, yes. The Dude is indeed sublime.
Humor most often occurs when two entirely different contexts are abruptly juxtaposed, thus creating a sort of mental train collision that results in laughter. (Think of the aquarium, Searchie.) This can be accomplished by many means, from (in)direct metaphor to inappropriate authorial tone to verbal trickery. The pun is a perfectly legitimate form of the last.

The pun is rarely an end in itself, but an occasion for allowing one logical absurdity that follows from a linguistic foulup to lead to others which lead to yet others, etc. One can go on too long with this sort of thing, so knowing when to just drop it is vitally important. Also, throwaway lines are essential -- trains of thought you might pursue if you so desired, and the reader may already be two or three steps down that track; which is a wonderful opportunity for one to be cruel and change the subject without warning.

Think about this. It is ALL TRUE.

Obvious puns I have trafficked in recently have included "lascivious innuendo," "molasses," and "loitering with intent." As with most such spontaneous eruptions, you had to be there.

"Deliver a pun that will make me laugh"? God, that's guaranteed to deliver a deflationary effect via performance anxiety. Now I'm going to be dead serious for the rest of the evening. And literal. Thanks a bunch.

Maybe I'll write a New York Times editorial or something.
Mr. B. Mouse I both envy and pity the estimable Mrs. Mouse. With this ever-present patter of enviable delicacy that you are blessed with (and which should receive equal credit for a gift neither wasted nor left un-exercised), evenings must be a verbal Cirque du Soleil of conunmdrums, contraptions, and backflips and salubrious segues into a range of topics that leaves me patting my forehead with a handkerchief. Good God, she must be exhausted, satisfied to the nth degree that must make sleeping truly a respite from the trials of a day.
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