The Elusive Humors

Aristotle_HumorsWith the Snowpacolypse we have been experiencing here in the Midwest, driving has become especially trying. I commented in a thread recently that it took me nearly forty-five minutes to get my car out of the driveway the other day.

It has been snowing all year, and there is quite a bit of it accumulated on the ground. The subarctic temperatures makes everything a little tricky, and it seems to freeze the snow into a solid sheet of ice. The following day more snow falls, adding a new layer, and reenforcing the solid frozen foundation.

I said in my comment that I may have saved myself time and aggravation had I taken the wheels off the car and fashioned skates of some sort or possibly a sled.

A friend soon replied. She said she never knew what to expect from me, and this comment, the image in her head, had her laughing near hysterically. She noted that she is not known as the easiest person to draw a laugh from, her son had told her she only laughs ‘once every seven years.’

So I was flattered, I take that as high praise.

Later in the thread there was another note from the same friend. It seemed she was rethinking her reaction, and she wasn’t certain I had intended my words as a joke, and thought she should maybe apologize for take my comments as a joke.

I was able to reply that it was, indeed, a joke. I said I thought it was a defense mechanism of sorts; no matter how terrible I feel, no matter how bad my day may be going, I am usually able to find something funny, some tiny little aspect I can twist into the ridiculous or otherwise see an opportunity for humor.

When I can’t, when I stop smiling and cracking wise, I said, that is probably a good time to turn around and run away.

I’m really not sure where this comes from.

People have remarked on my writing. A lot of my stuff is comical and filled with one liners and comedic occurrences and situations, but even in my most dry and somber, deep and reflective, serious efforts, there is almost always at least a little glimmer of the light shining through.

Readers do remark on this. Some writer friends have said they wished I could teach them how to write ‘funny,’ or how to develop their sense of humor. And believe me, I do wish I knew how. For many reasons.

Believe me I wish I had a marketable skill I could pass along to others and provide a decent living for myself. It’s one thing to be funny and make people laugh, but if you could teach humor and make people funny… I almost relate it to the ‘give a man a fish, teach a a man to fish’ proverb. Plus, if I could teach a good portion of the population and instill my sense of humor, I would probably personally find the world that much more enjoyable.

But I’m really not sure where it came from and I’m less sure how to pass it along.

I will sometimes say I was exposed to Monty Python at too early an age, but if was all it took, there’d be an island of comedians, comic actors and humorous writers when in fact these currently make up barely a majority in England.

I sometimes say the circumstances of my early years forced me to find the humor in the small details around me, but in truth –while I have had a few rough patches over the years– I haven’t had anything close to a tragic life, I definitely count myself as one of the luckier ones on this random and confusing planet.

So I’m at a loss. It begs the question, is your sense of humor something you are born with or something you develop or maybe a combination of the two? Nurture or nature, if you will. I can’t say.

I never intentionally learned to write a joke, but I did read hilarious authors and can usually only stand a movie or TV show that makes me laugh, and I certainly take note of what works and what doesn’t.

But I never took a class to develop my comedic styling. I never had any routine for working out my funny bone, other than reading, watching, and sampling, and then trial and error with paper and pen. I was mostly too shy in school to be the class clown, but I usually sat next to him and fed him lines. At first this was great because when the joke failed, it wasn’t me that was met with that hot, red silence.

The only thing I can really do is hope it’s contagious, and sometimes it seems like it might be. Sometimes it appears like my twisted sense of humor may be rubbing off on friends, a wry remark or snarky line comes out that I doubt they would think of, speak aloud, or find funny prior to meeting me. I hope so.

If I could consciously teach the world to laugh a little more I know I would. But maybe the best I can hope is some of it seeps in through prolonged exposure to my funny little tales and osmosis.

©M²XIV/REM

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