Humor and Pain

Have you ever whacked your elbow on the door? It stings! Funny bone, my butt, there is nothing funny about that.

So why do they call it the funny bone? I have no clue (I am sure I could google it but I am lazy)

This is my explanation. Humor and pain are so closely related, only a very thin razor edge separates them. Ever laugh until your sides hurt? Your jaw aches? Ever want to laugh at a funeral or in the middle of an argument?

Example: Tom and Jerry, the cartoon. Drop an anvil on a cat’s head, we laugh. Have a mouse drink an entire bottle of soda and slosh-walk to his hole where he gets his butt stuck, we laugh. These thing in real life would be painful.

Okay, those are cartoons, a human example – The 40 Yr old Virgin, the waxing scene. Ouch!! But we laugh. Do I even have to mention labor?? Pushing a tank through a funnel HURTS! and yet, we look back and 90% of birthing mothers laugh at themselves.

Why? Humor/Pain Just like the Greek drama masks, they are barely different, it is all in the delivery.

If I walk up to you and smack you in the face with a shovel, you are not going to laugh. But it isn’t you, it is a character in a book or a movie, so that is one point for relief. The second thing is HOW I smack you. Is it a loud crack with a curse or is it reverberating with a poiiiing sound and me telling you to eat dirt, liver lips? Delivery is vital. Thirdly, WHY am I smacking you? Did you just hit my kid or did you steal my twinkie? Does the reason merit the result?

And why in the crap am I rambling about this stuff?

Because I write humor (among other things) Actually, there is humor in all my work, just like there is pain. It is not all slap stick as my examples here are, but those are the most visual. Humor is subjective and must be handle just right to get a laugh. Too much and it becomes side show, a cartoon. Too little and well, booooooooooring. Likewise, if it is all verbal comebacks and zingers, snoooooooze.

The best types of comedy come with an element of pain, be it physical, emotional or psychological. It revs up that section of our brain that braces for the blow, tenses in anticipation and then… tickles it. The human mind adapts, copes and juggles what is too horrifyingly painful with laughter. It allows us to absorb the event while maintaining sanity.

Try this, the next time you are arguing with someone, husband, child, coworker, whatever, stick your tongue out at them. Then watch their face. There is a moment of blankness as their mind process it. They may keep arguing. But later, they will look back and giggle. Do it when you child scrapes their knee. They will laugh through their tears. That bored teller at the bank drive thru? Stick your thumbs in your ears, wiggle your fingers and go PBBBBBBBBBBT. I bet you get a smile.

And a smile is just a laugh, waiting to be born.


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Filed under Humor, Inez, writing

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