7 votes

When is comedy NOT at the consequence of something else's tragedy?

Is there an example in sharing a comedy(amusing, causing laughter) NOT at the consequence of something else's tragedy(distress, suffering, downfall)...?

Is there a funny story that doesn't diminish an other?

34 comments

  1. [14]
    wedgel
    Link
    Puns

    Puns

    13 votes
    1. HotPants
      Link Parent
      OP asked about comedy :)

      OP asked about comedy :)

      4 votes
    2. [12]
      SongsStillUnfinished
      Link Parent
      Puns imply that you do or don't get the subtlety of the spoken or written language. You(3rd person) get the joke or you took too long, or know others (inside jokes) won't understand the punchline...

      Puns imply that you do or don't get the subtlety of the spoken or written language. You(3rd person) get the joke or you took too long, or know others (inside jokes) won't understand the punchline...

      1 vote
      1. [11]
        tesseractcat
        Link Parent
        I don't think so, puns are still funny even if you're sure that the other person will get it.

        I don't think so, puns are still funny even if you're sure that the other person will get it.

        20 votes
        1. [10]
          SongsStillUnfinished
          Link Parent
          if we both get it, sure. But the idea that semantics or pronunciation have an inside joke mean that someone else is not smart enough or included in the group to 'get it'.

          if we both get it, sure. But the idea that semantics or pronunciation have an inside joke mean that someone else is not smart enough or included in the group to 'get it'.

          1 vote
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            That's a very extreme misinterpretation of how puns work. Puns require the audience to be smart enough and/or informed enough, to get them. There's no point in my making a pun to you, or even in...

            But the idea that semantics or pronunciation have an inside joke mean that someone else is not smart enough or included in the group to 'get it'.

            That's a very extreme misinterpretation of how puns work. Puns require the audience to be smart enough and/or informed enough, to get them. There's no point in my making a pun to you, or even in your hearing, if you don't understand it.

            You're assuming that someone has to not get the pun in order for it to be humorous. However, imagine if every single person on the planet understood the language I'm punning in. The pun I'm making would stil be just as funny/groanworthy as if someone didn't understand it.

            22 votes
          2. babypuncher
            Link Parent
            I do not think this is why puns are funny. They are funny because they are unexpected. They take common words and give them new contextual definitions often based on alliteration. People aren't...

            I do not think this is why puns are funny.

            They are funny because they are unexpected. They take common words and give them new contextual definitions often based on alliteration. People aren't laughing at them because some hypothetical mentally disabled person doesn't get it.

            12 votes
          3. [7]
            wervenyt
            Link Parent
            Does that necessarily imply that the cause for humour is the mockery of the hypothetical third party who misses the pun about the beekeeper's convention being all abuzz?

            Does that necessarily imply that the cause for humour is the mockery of the hypothetical third party who misses the pun about the beekeeper's convention being all abuzz?

            6 votes
            1. [6]
              SongsStillUnfinished
              Link Parent

              when is "comedy" not at the cost of something else's "tragedy"?

              1. [2]
                wervenyt
                Link Parent
                So it's laughing at something's tragedy because you're asking if it is? In a scenario where the pun is plain word association, so simple that most small children would probably 'get it', why are...

                So it's laughing at something's tragedy because you're asking if it is? In a scenario where the pun is plain word association, so simple that most small children would probably 'get it', why are you assuming that the humour comes from the tragedy that someone who doesn't exist does not 'get it'?

                15 votes
              2. [3]
                Diff
                Link Parent
                "Pfizer? I hardly know her!" Really doesn't seem like it's at anyone's expense for example. The inside group is everyone. It's just the reference that's funny, it's not the hypothetical existence...

                "Pfizer? I hardly know her!" Really doesn't seem like it's at anyone's expense for example. The inside group is everyone. It's just the reference that's funny, it's not the hypothetical existence of someone who might have never encountered that style of "joke" before.

                10 votes
                1. [2]
                  vektor
                  Link Parent
                  At the risk of making it not-funny, can anyone explain the ".. I hardly know her!" line of jokes to me?

                  At the risk of making it not-funny, can anyone explain the ".. I hardly know her!" line of jokes to me?

                  2 votes
                  1. TemulentTeatotaler
                    Link Parent
                    As far as I know the origins of that template are unknown, but it probably started as dirty wordplay where you would have some word ending in -er with a stem that could be made into a sex-adjacent...

                    As far as I know the origins of that template are unknown, but it probably started as dirty wordplay where you would have some word ending in -er with a stem that could be made into a sex-adjacent verb that could be done to "er"-->"her".

                    Over time that made its way into culture and drifted to more meta/absurdist use. Used in the original sense ("Poke-er? I hardly know her!") the joke was no longer funny or clever, so you get humor about the humor.

                    You can see the same thing happen with things like humor from observing racial differences. At one time you'd have a set about how black people drive/walk differently (and I'm sure there's lots of that still out there), but eventually it got passe and you get things like "white people have names like Lenny and black people have names like Carl".

                    5 votes
  2. wervenyt
    Link
    A lot of absurdist humour doesn't really have a butt, aside from the listener's expectations. You can laugh at simple incongruity or suspense, and while you could say you're making light of the...

    A lot of absurdist humour doesn't really have a butt, aside from the listener's expectations. You can laugh at simple incongruity or suspense, and while you could say you're making light of the tragedy of your unfulfilled prediction, that doesn't seem like a meaningful definition of tragedy.

    13 votes
  3. joplin
    Link
    There are a lot of other types of comedic mechanisms. Stephen Wright and Mitch Headberg both did a lot of humor about the oddity of language or of situations in life. There was not necessarily...

    There are a lot of other types of comedic mechanisms. Stephen Wright and Mitch Headberg both did a lot of humor about the oddity of language or of situations in life. There was not necessarily even a person involved in the joke. Here are some Steven Wright one-liners:

    The other day when I was walking through the woods, I saw a rabbit standing in front of a candle making shadows of people on a tree.

    Last week I bought a new phone. I took it out of the box, hooked it up to the wall... Pressed redial. The phone had a nervous breakdown

    I worked as a lumberjack for a lumber company. All of the trees were just 10 feet high and 1/4 inch thick. We made paneling.

    11 votes
  4. [2]
    DaveJarvis
    (edited )
    Link
    Abbott & Costello's Who's On First is a classic word play delight, ripe with miscommunication. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcRRaXV-fg Jack Paar's Water Closet/Wayside Chapel is a brilliant...

    Abbott & Costello's Who's On First is a classic word play delight, ripe with miscommunication.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcRRaXV-fg

    Jack Paar's Water Closet/Wayside Chapel is a brilliant piece stemming from misunderstanding.

    https://wordinfo.info/unit/3956

    Groucho Marx has many funny one-liners:

    One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.

    Punctuation twists can be funny:

    Car for sale. A classic! Lemon yellow coupe. Exterior is rust-proof. Can be delivered upon request. No engine runs better. If the sun is out, you can remove the roof for the feel of wind in your hair. Go ahead and kick the tires. As soon as they see it your neighbors will hassle you for a ride. Call xxx-xxxx.

    Change the meaning using the same word order:

    Car for sale. A classic lemon. Yellow coupe exterior is rust. Proof can be delivered upon request. No engine. Runs better if the sun is out. You can remove the roof. For the feel of wind in your hair, go ahead and kick the tires. As soon as they see it your neighbors will hassle you. For a ride, call xxx-xxxx.

    Animal jokes abound:

    A vacationing penguin is driving his car through Arizona when he notices that the oil pressure light is on. He gets out to look and sees oil dripping out of the motor. He drives to the nearest town and stops at the first gas station.

    After dropping the car off, the penguin goes for a walk around town. He sees an ice-cream shop and, being a penguin in Arizona, decides that something cold would really hit the spot. He gets a big dish of ice cream and sits down to eat. Having no hands he makes a real mess trying to eat with his flippers. After finishing his ice cream, he goes back to the gas station and asks the mechanic if he's found the problem. The mechanic looks up and says, "It looks like you blew a seal."

    "No, no," the penguin replies, "it's just ice cream."

    Longer forms of word play:

    https://www.math.ttu.edu/~pearce/jokes1/joke-168.html

    Here's a joke that's not at another person's expense, per se, but is a meta-joke because the punch-line has nothing to do with the lead-up (i.e., it's funnier for the person telling the joke than the audience):

    http://greenlist.weebly.com/the-pink-pink-joke.html

    10 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I considered using "Who's On First" in my own comment, but I figured it was possible to twist the meaning of this routine, so that the humour arises from Abbott's lack of understanding Costello -...

      Abbott & Costello's Who's On First is a classic word play delight, ripe with miscommunication.

      I considered using "Who's On First" in my own comment, but I figured it was possible to twist the meaning of this routine, so that the humour arises from Abbott's lack of understanding Costello - which would be a form of the "distress" that the OP considers is present in all humour. So, rather than give the OP that opportunity, I stayed away from this routine.

      4 votes
  5. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    A common form of humour is wordplay, which includes puns, but not always. Here are a couple of examples from the 'Airplane' movies (known as 'Flying High' in my country): Captain Oveur meeting...

    A common form of humour is wordplay, which includes puns, but not always.

    Here are a couple of examples from the 'Airplane' movies (known as 'Flying High' in my country):

    Then there's just plain silliness, like this section of a song performed by Danny Kaye in 'The Court Jester'. Noone's suffering or in distress. He's just making fun of a style of dance, where the first step of all is to stand... and stand... and stand... It's silly, not harmful!

    And, of course, satire exists. Like when Sir Humphrey Appleby demonstrates how to rig a survey.

    Those examples of humour don't involve tragedy or distress or suffering.

    9 votes
  6. [2]
    moocow1452
    Link
    There are lots of theories on humor, and the one I go with is that humor is a bonding agent between people. It's why insult comics can make a room crack up over an off color impersonation, but...

    There are lots of theories on humor, and the one I go with is that humor is a bonding agent between people. It's why insult comics can make a room crack up over an off color impersonation, but Marvel movies are considered funny while they quip a minute, and five year olds think the apex of humor is blowing raspberries at each other.

    7 votes
    1. SongsStillUnfinished
      Link Parent
      Ok you helped me answer my stupid question. & yes it is. Fart jokes. Never fluckin mind. Ignore me.

      Ok you helped me answer my stupid question.

      & yes it is. Fart jokes. Never fluckin mind. Ignore me.

      5 votes
  7. AnthonyB
    Link
    Wow, I am surprised no one has mentioned observational comedy. Guys like Seinfeld and Brian Regan have hours of material that point out the absurdity of everyday situations and most of it doesn't...

    Wow, I am surprised no one has mentioned observational comedy. Guys like Seinfeld and Brian Regan have hours of material that point out the absurdity of everyday situations and most of it doesn't come at the expense of others.

    6 votes
  8. [5]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    When you're telling a funny story that diminishes yourself.

    When you're telling a funny story that diminishes yourself.

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      SongsStillUnfinished
      Link Parent
      Yourself (3rd person) as the object doesn't change the premise that someone has to be the belittled individual or concept.

      Yourself (3rd person) as the object doesn't change the premise that someone has to be the belittled individual or concept.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        But I think that when you're telling the joke yourself, you're gaining social capital at the same time as you're theoretically losing it by being the butt of the joke. As far as a situation where...

        But I think that when you're telling the joke yourself, you're gaining social capital at the same time as you're theoretically losing it by being the butt of the joke. As far as a situation where the joke doesn't end up diminishing anyone, I think this counts. My uncle has tons of stories of dumb shit he did when he was young, and they're consistently hilarious. Everyone laughs, and likes him more for the funny story. No one is diminished there.

        6 votes
        1. SongsStillUnfinished
          Link Parent
          I learned the hard way jokes. I like the 'social capital' reasoning part of the prompt.

          I learned the hard way jokes.

          I like the 'social capital' reasoning part of the prompt.

          1 vote
        2. vektor
          Link Parent
          That's a very interesting perspective. I would've justified those jokes as "I consented, therefore it's ok", but basically, you're giving the reason why a lot of people consent to being the butt...

          That's a very interesting perspective. I would've justified those jokes as "I consented, therefore it's ok", but basically, you're giving the reason why a lot of people consent to being the butt of their own jokes. Neat.

          1 vote
  9. [5]
    lou
    (edited )
    Link
    You used the word "tragedy", which is, well, quite tragic! Most humor is about some kind of flaw or imperfection, minor as they are. Some of those are tragedies, but most are not. Sometimes it...

    You used the word "tragedy", which is, well, quite tragic!

    Most humor is about some kind of flaw or imperfection, minor as they are. Some of those are tragedies, but most are not. Sometimes it targets a quality instead. For example, saying that "Obama is so cool I can't make jokes about him, it's like having Clooney as president!". That is not a very good joke, but you get the gist. Chris rock talked about this once.

    You can also joke about an imperfection that is not really a big deal, like someone joking that my glasses make me look like Woody Allen.

    Still, there's a general idea among comedians that looking very good may hurt your career. There seems to be something about an odd and ugly face that makes it really relatable and suitable for comedy. Better or worse, for a lot of people the imperfection (or "tragedy", if you will...) seems to attach more easily to them. When a comedian is too beautiful (both genders), they often adopt a highly self-detrimental style of comedy, "uglifying" themselves to the audience (through both speech and body language). For example, Iliza Shlesinger is stunning and a terrific comedian, and she does that in many of her jokes.

    This is more or less true for all kinds of comedy but seems to be especially relevant on stand-up and sketch comedy.

    5 votes
    1. [4]
      SongsStillUnfinished
      Link Parent
      I tried to be concise about my point/question. And your thorough response gives justification about how/why it's acceptable. It still doesn't answer the question of when is humor found without...

      NOT at the consequence of something else's tragedy(distress, suffering, downfall)...?

      I tried to be concise about my point/question. And your thorough response gives justification about how/why it's acceptable. It still doesn't answer the question of when is humor found without some from of shame/ tragedy? sadface.png

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        lou
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I thought I did provide two examples. When I joked about Obama being too handsome, when someone told me I look like Woody Allen. I mean, I like Woody Allen as a character. That is not offensive to...

        I thought I did provide two examples. When I joked about Obama being too handsome, when someone told me I look like Woody Allen. I mean, I like Woody Allen as a character. That is not offensive to me at all. Those have nothing to do with tragedy. I think that's true for most jokes.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          SongsStillUnfinished
          Link Parent
          I feel like you're holding onto the specific term tragedy. The greatest downfall one could have. That's not what I mean. '...distress, suffering...' as a shit moment in one's day. I assume if you...

          I feel like you're holding onto the specific term tragedy. The greatest downfall one could have. That's not what I mean. '...distress, suffering...' as a shit moment in one's day. I assume if you can't the Obama joke, you're maybe a racist or homophobic, because a brown man can't be aesthetic...that's naive, ignorant, and now you're the butt of the joke. The woody allen joke(there's a lot to unpack and get sidetracked on) is the same self deprecating joke where MY(2nd person) suffering is paid for by the laughter.

          1. lou
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            The Obama joke has no butt, but if it does, it is about the inability of the comedian itself. The Woody Allen joke really is not deprecating at all, I'm a great fan of his work and being compared...

            The Obama joke has no butt, but if it does, it is about the inability of the comedian itself. The Woody Allen joke really is not deprecating at all, I'm a great fan of his work and being compared to his characters is very pleasing to me.

            I just remembered that Jerry Seinfeld has a joke about socks at a laundry house...

            1 vote
  10. HotPants
    Link
    British absurdist humor often uses fantasy to subvert expectations to comedic effect without implying tragedy. The meaning of life? 42. Discworld's DEATH takes something inherently tragic and...

    British absurdist humor often uses fantasy to subvert expectations to comedic effect without implying tragedy.

    The meaning of life? 42.

    Discworld's DEATH takes something inherently tragic and finds a certain non-tragic comedy.

    4 votes
  11. Farox
    Link
    As they say: Comedy = Tragedy + Time

    As they say:

    Comedy = Tragedy + Time