Monday, January 18, 2016

Figuring Out Humor

My friend and colleague the standup comedian/communication professor/former radio host tells me that if my classes don't find me funny, "you're too hip for the room."

Humor, as I tell my students, is highly personal, contextual, and volatile.  Some say that anything, any topic can be made funny; I don't think so.  For example, The Producers uses Hitler as a comic foil, but not really--the foil is over-the-top Broadway productions.  And I do laugh every time I think of "Springtime for Hitler and Germany," because the two scammers are trying their best to make the most awful, tasteless play in history--and it backfires.  So the Holocaust is not funny; it just is part of the mix.

I recently was watching an old Woody Allen movie where he and Diane Keaton were making jokes about rape.  Shame on her.  But I should not expect much better from actors, who will do anything for a buck.

These thoughts keep me awake because I watched the first (and only for me) episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  While I did laugh at her antics and Carol Kane is always funny (a la Princess Bride), the whole premise is tasteless and disturbing, and it seems that the writers and producers are tone deaf as to the tragedies undergone by women imprisoned, tortured, and raped by men--whether religious cultists or just run-of-the-mill fiends--for years.  I can't watch a show that doesn't seem to see that is astronomically unfunny. 

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