Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Did the Chicken Even Bother to Cross the Road?


I seem to remember James Thurber writing on the subject of what is not funny. He had received a letter from a reader recommending the humour of, I think, the Pawnee Indians which consisted of 'heavy banter'. Something similar has now happened to me. Don L.F.Nilsen, professor of English Linguistics at Arizona State University has sent me a flash drive 'full of humor-related PowerPoints and Video Clips.' Note that 'humor-related'. I missed it and, expecting some easy laughs, fired up the flash drive only to be confronted with some inscrutable PP presentations, the heavy banter of the business world and the hapless academic. One is called Onomastic Tropes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Bet you hadn't thought of that one had you? Prof. Nilsen is part of something called the International Society for Humor Studies. The front page of their web site announces that it's all about 'the advancement of humor research' and the society 'also includes professionals in the fields of counseling, management, nursing, journalism and theater'.  I am now trying to think of a funny payoff but I can't, I really can't. 

27 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Oh well, they may think you're a "prospect". Consider who's hosting their website here. You too could be jesting for Jesus and laughing for the Lord after a few tutorials from some of those fellows.

    I love their conference programs, including one called "Feminist Humor as 'Thought Experiment':
    Blended Spaces & Improbable
    Worlds as Subversive Humor". Perhaps they think you're a woman.

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  3. Academics manage to suck the soul out of poetry, great novels, and art, so why should comedy be any different?

    It reminds me of a brief association I had with a group of Literature zealots who believed that great books could improve people’s lives. They’d form small ‘snatch squads’ who would then travel into our local community and round up crack addicts, terminal patients, and OAPs. Then they’d spend hours reading them Carol Anne Duffy.

    I don’t know if the OAPs ever got to mend their ways but I was totally converted. Since that day, I’ve had a totally irrational dislike of Carol Anne Duffy’s poetry.

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  4. Apparently humour is 'an important and universal human faculty'. i've met quite a few people who didn't have or recognise it so i'm not too sure about universal. i wasn't sure if the whole website is some kind of extended joke, or if they're being serious.

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  5. Is the answer Chicken? none of the other words are remotely funny.

    next!

    that guy in the photo (Bryan?) needs a focus group. geddit?! I'll get me coat....

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  6. 'Three year ISHS study finds the funny bone to be humerus'

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  7. One way to look at this is to call it scholarly humour. Think of it as the scholar’s revenge against unintentional hilarity.

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