Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, June 16, 2006

For your Enjoyment Only (I think I'm a Hack)

I find it disconcerting when other people think I'm funnier than I think I am. It should be a big bonus, but it isn't. I get worried that if I'm funny when I don't think I am, then I'm probably not funny when I do think I am. Either way it leads to far too precise an estimate of how much time I spend getting humored.

An example, again featuring Dara, I don't know she's a blog muse or something: Anyway, we were finishing up a homework assignment on a rapidly approaching deadline, and one of our classmates was trying to talk to us. After one interruption too many I told him, "You have 30 seconds and then you're dead to me." I didn't even know it was a joke. I thought I was just making my point in a manner exaggerated enough to avoid giving offense (oh don't pretend like that doesn't make sense). I was barely paying attention. But Dara thought what I said was hysterical, so much so that she went home and told her fiance, who laughed so hard he shot soy milk out his nose.

I don't get it.

On the other end of the spectrum from the throwaway not-joke is the throwaway excess joke. A large group of Epi/Bio kids was out having a drink one Friday afternoon last March, and one of them ordered a personal pizza. When it arrived, the guy who had ordered it felt it fell short of the description on the menu. "That doesn't look like thirteen inches," he said disappointedly. "John," I sympathized, "Welcome to the life of woman." It was such an obvious and therefore lame punchline that I wouldn't even have bothered had I not been in my cups. But instead of the regulation groans and exchanges of pitying looks, the table (full of women) erupted into raucous laughter that attracted the attention of nearby tables. Months later they were still talking about it, asking me to repeat the line, telling all their friends who went on to tell friends of their own.

I ran that one by Mike in search of an answer as to what made my hackery so entertaining. "It's a well placed dick joke," he explained, shrugging. "It's not often you find one so well placed."

Well, blimey.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger jess at June 21, 2006 6:42 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I have definitely had this experience. In fact, I think I've actually expressed incredulity when people laughed -- "are you serious? That wasn't funny!" But so much of it is about timing and just the vibe of the room. For instance, probably the funniest line last night was when Dan said "there used to be a place called French Indochina" -- not at all funny out of context, but we were all primed to think it was the most hilarious thing ever said. This is why I wouldn't want to be a standup comedian.

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