Thursday, January 27, 2011

Way Funnier Things

Some of you have been kind enough to tell me that my blog entries (at least the intentionally funny ones) make you laugh.  At least I think you're being kind.  Tell you what, I'll assume you're being kind and not a) a lying prick who wants to make a fool of me or b) a psychopath who also laughs at industrial accidents and David Spade movies.  That way we'll both feel validated, and I won't have to think of another premise for this post.

So, thanks for being kind.  It's truly gratifying to be told that you've brought a smile to someone's face.  Having said that, however, I must point out that I'm not very funny.  I'm not suggesting that anyone who laughs at what I write has low standards.  It may be true, and some of you may want to do some soul-searching on that point.  Nevertheless, I do believe that my scant ability to be humorous relies mostly on randomness and luck. 

I'm never quite sure when I'm going to write something funny, which marks me as an amateur.  True comedians are funny people who know how to channel their energy into schtick that will consistently make people laugh.  Reportedly it's hard work, which frankly doesn't sound all that appealing to me.  Fortunately, however, it produces results, so that we can all find a good laugh when we need one.  And the people who can do that are the ones who should feel gratified.

Here's a list of things that, in my opinion, are way funnier than I am.  Enjoy.

Bill Cosby, "Noah: Right."  I loved listening to Bill Cosby records when I was a kid. Everything he did later came from his early standup work.  This is one of my all-time favorite routines.

George Carlin as Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman.  I also loved listening to George Carlin when I was a kid, but only his first album, Take Offs and Put Ons.  Because his later records were full of drugs and cursing and other hilarious things that you just couldn't play for a kid, not even in the 70s when most parents seem to have lost their minds (just check out the clothes they made us wear).  I especially loved "The Newscast" because it featured Al Sleet, the Hippy-Dippy Weather Man, who was funny before I even knew what hippies were and why we should laugh at them. This clip is Carlin doing a little piece of Al for Johnny Carson in 1966, which is extra-enjoyable because George looks more like a middle school social studies teacher than the most subversive comic of a generation.

Christopher Walken/Tim Meadows, "Census Taker."  This is one of the funniest "Saturday Night Live" sketches in the entire 912 years the show has been on the air.  As a comic actor, Christopher Walken doesn't say funny things; he says things funny, which is much harder to pull off, especially since his delivery is so creepily deadpan.  It's hard to be really envious of his ability to make people laugh, because it's not as if any sane person would actually want to be like him.
Watch "Census Taker" here

This joke by Ellen DeGeneres.  "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 now, and we don't know where the hell she is."  Humor is a very subjective thing.  This particular joke always, always makes me laugh.  It's short and very silly. Don't waste my time, just get a laugh out of me and let me move on. That's efficient jokestering at its finest.

Stephen Colbert's Congressional testimony on migrant workers. The most difficult thing in the world, I think, is to be simultaneously funny and smart and heartfelt. It's a level of comic integrity that very few can muster. (Hint: videos of guys getting hit in the balls, while technically funny, don't qualify for what I'm talking about.) Stephen Colbert is a genius, and I could post just about any clip from just about any episode of "The Colbert Report." But his 2010 testimony before Congress is perfect comedy, because in addition to being funny, smart, and heartfelt, it also pissed people off that a (mostly) fictional character was making more sense than they were.  
Watch and read Colbert's opening statement here

The Simpsons, "The Blunch Black of Blotre Blame." I cannot explain why this is funny. Maybe you don't think it is. Possibly it's not nearly as funny as I think it is. But anybody who spends a lot of time with me will tell you that I quote this line frequently, and I laugh at it every single time. Which is pretty amazing, and also quite annoying to the people who spend a lot of time with me, and also explains why there aren't many of those people.

The Onion, "Kitten Thinks of Nothing But Murder All Day." The Onion makes me laugh all the time. This is my all-time favorite thing that has ever been on its website. For real.
See the original headline here

Ernie Kovacs, "The Nairobi Trio." Ernie Kovacs was so far ahead of his time that some of his stuff won't even be funny for another 20 years. There is absolutely no reason that a series of videos featuring pantomime musicians in ape masks should make anybody laugh, except that Kovacs was a genius at finding humor in places most normal people would never even look.

Monty Python, "The Last Supper." Well, picking a single Monty Python sketch as an example of what I find funny is almost an exercise in futility. I love this clip because it's self-contained, which is rare because so much of Python's humor comes from stretching and weaving a joke across an entire movie or TV show. Plus it has John Cleese being angry and Eric Idle being clueless, and it doesn't get much better than that.

The Marx Brothers, Duck Soup. You say you don't like The Marx Brothers? Well, I don't have their gifts of sparkling wordplay and timing, but fuck you. Coincidentally, that's what The Marx Brothers said in all of their best bits, only with more wit and a stronger accent. Duck Soup is one of the funniest movies ever made, and a lot of the jokes in it wouldn't pass muster with either the censors or the politically correct today. Not bad for a movie made in 1933.

Repeat as necessary.

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