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What’s the most annoying form of humor? April 11, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben believes that humor is the most individual form of taste, or enjoyment, if you will. What makes you burst out in a deep belly-laugh or uncontrollable snickering may make your colleague a few cubicles over writhe in discomfort, and the guy across the aisle may not even get the joke. This doesn’t make you right and them wrong; it simply adds to the rounding out of who you are, it paints a unique portrait of you.

I do think, however, that some forms of humor are generally considered more offensive or annoying than others. Here’s my list of top ten annoying forms of humor, and how I feel about them:

1. Clowns. I absolutely hate clowns. I think they’re creepy, and can’t see any humor in them. Alice Cooper’s song “Can’t Sleep, the Clowns Will Eat Me” says it all as far as I’m concerned. Clowns originated in mediaeval Europe to terrorize the populace into abandoning sin and falling in line with Church teachings; to me, they’re every bit as scary now as they were then.

2. Mimes. If anything, I hate mimes more than clowns. Besides not being funny, they seem to cloak themselves in an aura of self-righteousness. Watching mimes be self-righteously rude to people who are minding their own business in public squares, train stations and the like makes me sick. If I behaved that obnoxiously to my fellow travellers, I’d be detained. But mimes? Hey, this is performance art! Give me Groucho over Harpo any day.

3. Lame cartoons. It can’t be easy to be a cartoonist and come up with a funny strip every day. But some strips are never funny, and yet there they are, day after day after day. Why do papers insist on publishing “Peanuts,” “Mutts,” “Doonesbury,” and their ilk? Why is “Peanuts,” one of the most boring strips in cartoon history, revered? Even “Blondie” is occasionally funny, and “Mark Trail” sometimes has interesting nature facts. But, much as we might long for the days of “The Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes,” there are good contemporary cartoons like “Get Fuzzy,” “Pickles,” “Jump Start,” “Pearls Before Swine,” and “Brewster Rockit” we could be enjoying in the space taken up by those lame ducks. All I can say is, thank God for “Dilbert.”

4. Puns. A pun is a play on words that can range from clever to extremely clunky and painful, especially when used clumsily or overused, as punsters seem prone to do. (Example: A colleague mentions the episode in “Game of Thrones” where Brienne is forced to fight a bear. The punster immediately chimes in with “What a shocking scene! I could barely bear to watch it!”) Ouch. Our friend Ben once had a boss who insisted on reciting a pun-riddled version of “Cinderella” at each and every corporate Christmas party. Trust me, fighting a bear would have seemed like a party by comparison.

5. Slapstick. Our friend Ben knows many people who can’t stand slapstick. But generally speaking, I love slapstick; it makes me laugh out loud. If I want to be cheered up, I watch a clip of Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) from the Pink Panther series; his interplay with Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau is simply marvelous to me, combining verbal wit with physical faux pas. Groucho Marx was also a master of this art, the ability to combine razor wit and physical incompetence. Charlie Chaplin performed the most brilliant slapstick I’ve ever seen, his legs seemed like rubber. I’ve still never seen a Chaplin film, but I saw the clips of him at the end of the bioflick where he was played by the brilliant Robert Downey Jr. To this day, I wonder how he managed to pull this off.

6. Sadistic humor. I list this one here because in essence it’s a form of slapstick, one epitomized by the Three Stooges. It’s physical humor, like slapstick, but in this case, you have bullies like Mo poking innocents like Larry and Curly in the eye and slapping them around. What’s funny about that? Nothing that I can imagine. Apparently the damage Mo inflicted on his siblings and fellow actors was so great that the actor who played Curly Joe forced him to sign a contract promising not to actually hurt him. Ha, ha, ha! What a laugh riot.

7. Sarcasm. Sarcasm is another form of sadism, but this time, it’s verbal. Nonetheless, the point (pun intended) is to stab your target with the sharpened blades of your wit, scoring points at their expense. Our friend Ben’s mother always maintained that sarcasm was the lowest form of humor and should not be indulged in by any respectable person, since it targeted people who were weak and unable to defend themselves. Nastiness disguised as humor is still nastiness, and sarcasm is just mockery unter another name. Mockery is just another form of bullying, and like all forms of bullying, is unworthy.

8. Vulgarity. Comedians like the late George Carlin and Richard Pryor apparently felt that the shock factor of vulgarity equalled humor, and millions of fans apparently agreed with them. Fans of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” and Russell Brand’s and Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up comedy also agree. Vulgar or not, stand-up comedy is a dead bore to our friend Ben. The only time I’ve ever enjoyed it was in Gabriel Byrne’s send-up in the TV movie “Trigger Happy” (aka “Mad Dog Time”). Coupled with Paul Anka’s send-up of himself, it was a performance to remember.

9. Late-night shows. Why do people watch these shows? Who really wants to see Kim Kardashian being interviewed by David Letterman? We have friends who grew up watching Johnny Carson and the like with Grandma, but sheesh. What could possibly be funny about an interminable late-night talk show?! We wish Stephen Colbert all the best, but please. We could use our sleep.

10. Verbal swordplay. Like slapstick, our friend Ben loves the sharpened tongue, the ability of the underdog to humorously defeat his enemies when they don’t even know what hit them. Groucho Marx, W.C. Fields, Lord Tyrion Lannister of “Game of Thrones,” and Sherlock Holmes are all experts at this art. (A close read of the Holmes canon will reveal the humor that is so often hidden in the film versions.) A brain is as good as a sword when it comes to defeating brawny but moronic enemies.

So what are your most-hated forms of humor? Let us hear from you!

Elected! January 24, 2011

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Our friend Ben was thrilled to learn this morning that one of my longtime faves, Alice Cooper, has finally been given the nod and will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this coming March. Woohoo! God knows it’s taken them long enough.

In addition to decades’ worth of wonderful songs (including “Poison,” “School’s Out,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Bed of Nails,” “Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me,” “House of Fire,” “I Never Cry,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Welcome to My Nightmare,” and, of course, “Elected”), Alice is widely recognized as the Godfather of punk rock, costume-rock megastars like Kiss, and the like. He was the first, and he may well be the last. I’m glad to see that he’s been “Elected” at last.

Welcome to My Nightmare October 4, 2009

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Our friend Ben was reminded yesterday by Silence Dogood’s post, “Monster Mash: Potatoes,” and a response by Lzyjo of the delightful blog Worms and Flowers (http://wormandflowers.wordpress.com/) about how much she’d loved the song “Monster Mash” as a child, that it was high time to do a roundup of best songs for Hallowe’en. It’s already October, for Pete’s sake! Better get a move on if we want to get our scary sounds lined up.

Unfortunately, our friend Ben’s brain isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders these days: I’m a few jack-o-lanterns short of a load. So I’m sure I’m forgetting some of my own Hallowe’en faves here in addition to there being plenty I’ve never heard. This is your opportunity to add to the list by contributing your own faves. Help us, please!

Without more ado, here’s our current Hallowe’en playlist:

Monster Mash. It’s a graveyard smash.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Let’s hope he stayed there, too.

Bat Out of Hell. Serve up some Hallowe’en Meatloaf.

Werewolves of London. Aaahoo!!!

Moon Over Bourbon Street. Let’s not forget the vampires.

Don’t Fear the Reaper. The most seductive creepy song ever. It’ll make your skin crawl.

The Time Warp. Time to watch “Rocky Horror” again. It’s just a jump to the left.

Spooky. Sweet. Gotta have a Casper in there somewhere.

Witchy Woman. See how high she flies.

Black Magic Woman. She’s trying to make a devil out of you.

Ghostbusters Theme. Okay, it’s not scary, but you can’t get it out of your head, can you? Who you gonna call?

Highway to Hell. This ain’t no normal traffic jam.

Love Potion Number 9. Better watch those gypsy types—and keep away from the cops.

Hotel California. Roaches check in, they don’t check out.

Evil Ways. This can’t go on.

Fortune Teller. Even Robert Plant fell under her spell.

Ghostdance. If you want the ultimate in spine-tingling, this Robbie Robertson song is it.

Skinwalker. Unless this Robbie Robertson song is it.

Dust in the Wind. Ashes to ashes.

Alice Cooper. Okay, this isn’t a song, it’s an icon. Nobody, and we mean nobody, has done as much for campy-creepy as Alice. If you don’t know Alice, you don’t know, period. Try these for starters: “Welcome to My Nightmare;” “I Love the Dead;” “Billion Dollar Babies;” “Poison;” “Dragontown;” “Go to Hell;” “Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me;” and 2009’s classic “Keepin’ Halloween Alive.” Go Alice Go!!!!

Okay, your turn. What are your Hallowe’en faves?