Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Difference Between a Funny Person, an Unfunny Person, and an Asshole

I was listening to a radio show the other day and the host was talking about Adam Sandler's upcoming movie, in which he plays one of two firemen who pretend to be a gay couple in order to qualify for health insurance. A funny idea, right? That's because Adam Sandler and the people at Happy Madison are funny people.

This radio host then said, "I refuse to make a joke about 'firemen' and 'flaming'... I refuse!"

That's an example of an unfunny person at work.

See, he recognizes that there is a chance for a joke there -- not a very good one, of course.

A joke is like a structure. You build it from pieces, and make a construction.

That radio host recognized the location for a structure, and what some of the elements might be that would go into the joke's construction. But he doesn't know how to build it. So instead he sort of leans the pieces against each other into something that looks like a joke, but isn't structurally sound.

That's hacky. Comedy writers and other funny people hate that. Because what he is doing is getting a laugh without doing much of the work.

Then there's the asshole. We all know someone like this. This person hears the opportunity for a joke, but is too lazy to even lift the pieces to try to make a joke. He merely wants everyone to know he is aware this is a joke place, and get a laugh with no effort.

He makes jokes like, "I could say something, but I won't." Or, "I'm biting my tongue." Or, "It would be soooo easy to say something mean right now." People like this get a laugh by filling a hole where a joke could go with the comedic equivalent of styrofoam packing peanuts.

These people are assholes. They say things like that because they're not funny.


Sean Tisdall said...

I could steal a joke by Howie Miller right now but I won't, does that make me an asshole or a racist?

Sydelle Pearl said...

You forgot to include the pie chart that shows that the teeniest slice of the pie imaginable represents the actual funny people and that the gigantic slices are represented by "unfunny people", "assholes", "bores" and "other irritants".

Michael Markowitz said...

You're absolutely right, Sydelle... and those gigantic slices seem to get bigger every day.

Russell Arch said...

Can I tattoo this blog entry on my arm for quick reference?

Fucking brilliant!

Paul Israelson said...

Is it unfunny to steal funny material?

Today's lunchroom discussion was about "famous last words" engraved on tombstones.

I couldn't resist:

"Be careful, Son. I don't think the safety is on."

Michael Markowitz said...

Thanks, Russ, yes, of course, tattoo away. I know you already have some prison plans tattooed there, but I'm sure you can find room.