Posted by: nhfalcon | May 4, 2009

Humor & Political Correctness

Well, seeing as I’ve managed to anger one individual out there in the blogosphere (1: again, and 2: just one that I know of), I thought I’d turn yet again to the inestimable Dennis Miller to try to explain something about myself and where I’m coming from when I write posts that not everyone is going to find funny.

Mr. Miller?

“I’ve had it up to here with this PC shit! Why can’t we laugh at ourselves? Why, when a comedian does a joke on anything even vaguely controversial, do certain people moan like somebody let one rip during an audience with the Pope? I mean, come on, who actually moans at a joke? Who is responsible for that?

Well, quite frankly, I’m pinning it on the gays, okay?

Now, now, I know there’s some reflexively irate homosexual in the crowd thinking, “How dare you, Miss Thing?” And what I’m saying to you is this: I think so little of the variations in human sexuality that I refuse to treat you like a Faberge egg. You are part of the human collective. Come, join in our reindeer games. You too can be poked fun at. And that goes for the whole spectrum of special interest groups out there wandering the freakazoid Serengeti Plain.

Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but trying to negotiate the narrow straits of what’s acceptably funny nowadays is like trying to navigate through the Sargasso Sea of plastic toadstools in the middle of a bumper pool table. I understand where political correctness comes from – a scant forty years ago we were doing Amos ‘n’ Andy jokes on the airwaves, for chrissakes. We were barbaric louts. But now, suddenly, we find ourselves in a classic overcorrection, where we’re all supposed to zip through life like some huge societal squadron of Blue Angels, flying six inches off each other’s taste wing, never ever deviating even one angstrom.

Well, folks, there are a lot of different aircraft careening through the social stratosphere, and we better start working out some respectfully independent glide paths or it’s going to start getting real messy.

Why don’t we start by letting humor serve as our guide? Laughter is one of the great beacons in life because we don’t defract it by gunning it through our intellectual prism. What makes us laugh is a mystery – an involuntary response. If I could explain to you why Jerry Lewis makes me laugh when he’s trying to be serious, and why he makes me straight-faced when he’s trying to get me to laugh, I’d have the answer. But I don’t. But damn it, I’m telling you the key lies somewhere in Lewis! Yeah, Jerry is the “Stargate” on this. And I’m pretty sure the comedic Rosetta Stone lies somewhere in his “catching the cigarette in the mouth” bit. And I think Charlie Callas will back me up on that.

The point is, the people who are threatened by jokes are the same people who tend to refer to actors on the soap operas by their character’s name. Listen, there’s the real world, and then there’s the joke world, okay? The joke world can get tough – wear a cup. When I watch Dana Carvey tee up his impression of me and how I run my hand through my hair, it momentarily irks me, but only for a second. Because I realize it’s a joke, and I don’t want to waste one more moment being angry when I could get back to my true avocation, which is completely idolizing myself.

Y’know something, folks, it wouldn’t hurt if everybody held their cards a little closer to their vest. Don’t let ’em know they’ve rattled you if it hits close to home. You should be able to take that joke right in the solar plexus, get up, get that two-cycle weed-whacker engine of a brain humming, and give as good as you got. And if you get bested, go home, sharpen your verbal machete, and get ready for the next thicket.

Don’t call Gloria Allred. Don’t go to court. Don’t steal a machine gun and shoot everbody at the party who made fun of your Jiffy-Pop rag hat.

Relax. Relax. The truth is, the human sense of humor tends to be barbaric, and it’s been that way all along. I’m sure on the eve of the Nativity, when the tall Magi smacked his forehead on the crossbeam while entering the stable, Joseph took a second away from pondering who impregnated his wife and laughed his little carpenter ass off.

You know, a sense of humor is exactly that – a sense. Not a fact, not etched in stone, not an empirical math equation, but just what the word intones – a sense of what you find funny.

And obviously everybody has a different sense of what’s funny. If you need confirmation of that, I would remind you that “Saved by the Bell” recently celebrated the taping of their one-hundredth episode. Oh, well, one man’s Moliere is another man’s Screech, and that’s the way it should be. But there are those who feel the need to enlist you in a cult whose core doctrine consists solely of their personal beliefs. Well, I subscribe to the theory of “The Cult of One.” The cult of the individual. That way, if I “lemming” off the cliff, I’m only following my own nose and not the ass of another lemming. That’s what America is all about. A great nation that guarantees you the right to lead whatever sort of existence you want to lead and that guarantees me the right to ridicule it mercilessly.

Come on, am I the only one who delights in the fact that somewhere out there near the pillars of Hercules there’s a crazy old bitch like Marge Schott?

You know something, there’s nothing wrong with a culture where everybody has a different idea of what’s humorous. The last time I can remember an entire nation being on the same page, it was Germany in the late Thirties and it didn’t really turn out that funny. Remember, in its time and place, what Hitler said was considered politically correct; and it’s that blind adherence to what is situationally palatable that is truly dangerous. We should question it all. Poke fun at it all. Piss off on it all. Rail against it all.

And most important, for chrissakes, laugh at it all. Becuase the only thing separating holy writ from complete bullshit is your perspective. It’s your only weapon. Keep the safety off, don’t take yourself too seriously, and remember that at the end of the day, this is just an ant farm with beepers, and it takes zero politically correct assholes to screw in a light bulb, because they are perpetually in the fucking dark.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

Thanks, Dennis. Allow me two elaborate on two thing from that rant, okay?

1) Like you said, there’s the joke world, and there’s the real world. The stuff that I write about when I’m trying to be funny is not necessarily what I truly believe in in real life, especially when it comes to any type of bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia, political philosophies, etc., etc., etc…). Give me a little more credit than that, all right? Better yet, give my parents a little more credit than that, because, after all, they are the ones who instilled in me the values that I have. Give Cookiemaker a little more credit than that, huh? Do you really think she (or any woman, for that matter) would have married me if I was a sexist, chauvanist (sp?) pig? For those of you who know Mrs. Chili, give her a little more credit. Do you really think she’d have anything to do with me at all, much less consider me a close personal friend, if I was such an a-hole?

If you don’t find certain things that I write here to be funny, that’s fine. I’m well aware of the fact that I am often the only person who thinks I’m funny. As Dennis alluded to above, everbody has a different sense of what’s funny. But at least try to realize when I’m trying to be funny and when I’m trying to be serious. I know that’s not always easy to determine when reading the written word (and we have been down that road already, haven’t we?) but when I throw this symbol up somewhere 🙂 that’s usually a pretty good indicator that I’m making an attempt at humor, ok?

2) I don’t have a bad opinion of anybody who doesn’t find me funny. Just like I have the right joke about pretty much anything, everybody has the right to not find what I write funny. That doesn’t make me think less of them. I don’t think anybody out there refers to soap opera actors by theircharacter’s name. I don’t think anybody out there is a Nazi or an asshole.

Okay?

Okay.

Carry on.

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Responses

  1. I WOULD like a little more credit, actually. I’m a pretty good judge of character (with, I’ll admit, a few notable exceptions, of which you are NOT one).

    Yeats said “”Think where man’s glory most begins and ends /And say my glory was I had such friends.” I think a lot about someone’s character can be learned by observing the people who willingly associate with him. I like to think that your association with me would carry SOME weight with the folks who know a little bit about me….

  2. Reminds me of an old joke:

    Q. How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A. That’s not funny.

    Alternate punchline:
    A. Four–one to screw it in, and three to write about how the socket was violated.

  3. I came back to add that there’s also the idea of perceived intent. I know you – I’ve known you for years and I understand the kind of person you are in your everyday life, so I understand, at least, most of the time, your intent in saying some of the dumbass (for lack of a better word) things you say. That being said, I can easily understand why some of those dumbass things might piss people off, especially people who don’t know you personally.

    There’s a wide gap between being irreverently dumbass and being ignorant, cynical, and mean, but it’s sometimes a hard gap to discern.

  4. “Perceived intent” is an interesting concept in this context. I’m not so sure it holds up when some of the “dumbass things (one) says” are wholly at odds with principles the speaker professes to espouse.

    But hey, I’m sure I’m splitting hairs.

  5. Dumbass?

    Dumbass?!

    If this is your way of trying to say “I got your back, Falcon,” Mrs. C…. 🙂

    It is about perceived intent. What boggles my mind in the specific incident at hand here is just how off the mark the perception is. Now, the individual in question does not truly know me. We’ve never met. But said individual has been around the Eyrie a bit, at least long enough – or so I thought – to know when I was joking.

    Not only that, but I’ve said far worse things – or so I thought – that (as far as I know) didn’t cause this kind of a reaction.

    Again, it’s not the fact that I wasn’t found funny in this instance that bothers me. I’m okay with that. It’s the instant and vehement assumption that – despite many serious posts I’ve made to the contrary – I actually am the kind of person I have apparently become in this individual’s mind.

  6. At some point, a jackass is a jackass. The occasional apology only cuts it so much.

  7. Hold on a second, here, Bo. It’s been a long week at work for me (already), so I’m a little confused – am I being called a jackass?

  8. No, no, no. Of course not.

    I’m saying if you get out and show your ass a bunch and regularly rant and rave about anyone right of center as if s/he were a lockstep zombified brownshirt, as opposed to supposing that such a person may well have reached his/her position just as thoughtfully as you did yours, there comes a point when the occasional “I’m sorry, I was grumpy” rings hollow.

    My experience with X was up and down, but I ultimately determined to my satisfaction that he/she was incapable of respecting any conservative position and/or its holder. That’s s/he’s huffed and puffed and stomped off with one as ceaselessly accommodating as you reinforces my determination.

    I trust I’ve been clearer. I apologize for my earlier ambiguity.

  9. Thanx for the clarification, Bo.

  10. I agree that humor and sense of humor are vague animals. That being said, I though the earlier post was funny. Even James Carville thinks Republican Women are hotter.


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