Friday, April 01, 2005

Prepare to laugh to the point of pain

You will deserve it.

Update: I should explain.

First of all, maybe you won’t deserve it. Second of all, if you are reading this and don’t know what is linked to in the link posted above, click on the link and then click on the other link (inside the first link) before continuing. I must stress how important this is.

Why is this funny:

To discuss why this is funny I must discuss the definition of humor. Humor is qualification of the sensation of learning that oneself is more able to influence the outside world (or “power” for brevity) then previously thought. Specifically it refers to the absolute measure of increase in power awareness relative to the amount of time in which that knowledge is acquired. The bigger the increase over a shorter amount of time yields more of the quality “humor”.

Most directly, a butt of the joke is demonstrated as less powerful. It is presupposed that the butt of the joke is engaged in some sort of zero sum competition with the audience, although sometimes that is not well defined, producing mixed feelings as in this case (I don’t know whether to laugh or cry). In terms of primate evolution, laughter may have been a way to signal to a group that a perceived danger is in fact not dangerous (as in the case of a disabled large predator), thus contagious laughter (laughter is also contagious because having a group in agreement with oneself also has implications for one’s ability to effect the outside world).

Also, jokes may be introspective, demonstrating power that the audience did not know was already theirs. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side!” The audience knew that was the answer, they had the power to answer the question. However, an audience that has never heard the joke before will hesitate to answer because he is unsure that he knows the answer. The joker then reveals the punchline and the audience’s own power (in this case, to answer simple questions).

All humor fits into this paradigm. Absurdist humor is basically a joke on the people who don’t get it. “I don’t get.” “Hehehe! That’s the joke!”

If you have not read what is in the first link, you will be sorry if you continue. That said: This is funny because upon being confronted with the title of Ethical Werewolf’s post title, one begins to imagine all sorts of right wing nut cases diligently trying to express the ineffable, but in their eyes evident, wishes of this poor disemspirited body. When clicking on the link these imagined characters are revealed as foolish, thus completing the joke. In this case, there exists a butt of the joke, and in particular it is that group of people who would ascribe (blogable) thought to that mass of tissue. I am cracking up just thinking about it.

So the butt of the joke is not “that woman” (whose name I am avoiding to save the joke for anyone who may see it in a stray glance), it is all of these people who purport to speak for her. So the pain in your gut from laughing may not be a justly deserved punishment, but simply a reminder that the situation here is complex. To some extent we are engaged in a zero sum game with these right wingnuts in that we have diametrically opposed agendas on this issue. However, we are all trying to prevent the pain and suffering that occurred in this case, for which your strained laughing muscles serve as reminder.


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