Monday, November 06, 2006

WHY FUNNY MATTERS

WHY FUNNY MATTERS

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I knew a girl named Irene.  If she had lived in the 60’s Irene would have been a hippy.  Not just any hippy, but one of those “Hey man, we can change the world through poetry” type of hippy.  But poor Irene wasn’t living in the 60’s, she was in the 80’s.
     Irene and I had a problem.  No, we weren’t enemies, but we disagreed on certain philosophies.  Irene was one of those irritating high school girls for whom everything had to have meaning, deep meaning, deep powerful meaning.  I, on the other hand, was one of those irritating high school kids for whom everything had to be funny, deep funny, deep powerful funny.
     And this is where we disagreed.  She believed funny was not deep, at least not my kind of funny.  Actually, in the five years I knew her I never found out what kind of funny she thought was deep and meaningful kind of funny.
     I, on the other hand, though that everything being deep and meaningful was boring and decidedly not funny.  The thing is Irene was not at all boring, just not overly funny.
     About a year or so after graduation, after not seeing each other for some time, Irene and I bumped into each other in a local mall.  We chatted a bit.  I asked what she was doing (I don’t remember what, but I’m sure it was deep and meaningful) and she asked what I was doing.  I mentioned that I was taking journalism but was having trouble with writing the stories.
     And she said “Why?  Because they’re too funny?”
     Bitch.
     The answer was, by the way, just that I was having trouble writing like a journalist.  It’s an art that I just never got the hang of.

     To Irene funny didn’t matter.  To me it matters above all else.  (Ok, not above all else, but above a lot of things.)
     Let’s get to the basics.  Funny makes us laugh and laughter makes us feel good.  Having a bad day?  A good laugh can change all that.  Not only that a good laugh actually affects our brain chemistry making us feel good.
     There is nothing wrong with liking to laugh and there is nothing wrong with liking to make people laugh.  I like it when someone makes me laugh, if it’s a good friend or a comedian or even just someone saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  
     I love it when I am able to make people laugh.  It fills me with a sense of pride that I never had with, say, academics or sports.  Saying something, for example, offhandedly and having someone just burst out laughing gives me a feeling like no other.
     And I’m pretty good at it too.  That fills me with a sense of purpose that maybe someone above (God or whatever) pointed to me and said “This is your gift” and every time someone laughs at one of my jokes I am fulfilling a divine purpose.
     And I have in many, many ways.  But not in the most important way.  Important, that is, to me.  
     When I was younger I decided to become a comedian.  I worked very hard on material, I even tried to get into a few armature nights, but in the end I let it fall by the wayside.  I was unsure about my material.  I considered it sub par and I would not go on stage with less that great material.  Then I realized that comedy, in its stand up form, is pretty much dead.  Anybody who can spring a few lame jokes together can get a recurring spot on a stage, not because he/she are any good, but because there is a glut of clubs and shows and filler is needed.
     And then magic entered my life.  It took a while to realize it, but that was the final piece.  I had my means of communication.
     For the past year and few months I have been working on my funny magic show (I refuse to use the word “Comedy” as it is a swear word to me) and I may be working on it this time next year.  Who cares how long, as long as when it premiers it is perfect, magical and very, very funny.
Because whether you believe it or not, funny matters.

2 Comments:

Blogger tga said...

The other day I was out having a coffee with a friend and I sort of got off on a tangent of jokes, riffing on some topic that had caught my attention. I did about five minutes off the top of my head and my friend Kate laughed so hard I think she actually stopped breathing for about a minute. Once she recovered and could speak again, she looked at me with amazement and said, "It must be exhausting being you. Your mind is always working."
Like you, Gord, this stuff just pops into my head already funny and I just let it out. Sometimes it's embarrassingly easy, but I was grinning at that compliment.
"It must be exhausting being you."
That's the second coolest thing a woman has ever said to me after resuming normal breathing.

tga

10:13 AM  
Blogger tga said...

"Like you, Gord, this stuff just pops into my head already funny and I just let it out."
Yes, Gord just pops into my head sometimes. That's exactly what I meant.

10:19 AM  

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