Friday, September 12, 2014

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Coming to terms with having to laugh.

Different people find different things funny. There are a few things that get me going.
For starters, I like puns. They make me happy.
There are three guys on a boat. They have a pack of cigarettes, but no means of lighting them. The problem was easily solved. They threw one cigarette into the water. At that point the whole boat became a cigarette lighter. 

I really love the unintended puns that come from grammatical, spelling, and editing errors. Everyone makes such mistakes, including me. So I don't see it so much as making fun of the author as the event of the author's mistake. My favorite are the ones from church bulletins (like these) and signs, but even little kids' homework will due (see, get it?):

My daily sense of humor is dark and hyperbolic: gallows humor. Probably the only thing I liked from Mike Myers Cat in the Hat movie was where he said,
"There is a third option! ... It involves... murder!" 
I use that phrase anytime a person, especially a student, is presenting me with a dichotomy. I almost never cite my source. I also offer murder as an option when someone is complaining about someone else. I look them in the eye and say with a deadly serious face, "I could kill him for you." I offer robbery or sale and distribution of narcotics as a way to alleviate financial difficulties, especially for churches in which I'm involved. When I am teaching logical fallacies to my students, I look forward to teaching the slippery slope fallacy and give this story as an example:
So, you think you want to have a beer, huh? Well if you have a beer before too long you're going to want to have a cigarette with that beer. You're going to be drinking and smoking. Before long, you'll smoke a little pot. That will be awesome. So you'll try a few hallucinogens; you'll drop some acid do a little "special K." And you know which hallucinogens are best! The ones that are mixed with stimulants! So you'll take a couple tabs of ecstasy and that'll be amazing, So you'll decide to go ahead and step up the stimulants, a little meth, a bit of cocaine. And you know what goes great with cocaine, right? Heroine. So you'll be addicted to heroine and cocaine and you'll drop out of school. You'll end up stealing from, and likely murdering, your family. Then you'll have no one else to rob. So you'll to whore yourself out on the street for $5 a pop to feed your growing addiction. Do you really want to have that beer? 
I always get laughter and sometimes applause from my students after this little monologue. Joking about death, addiction, prostitution and illegal substance abuse is hilarious. This isn't because I think death and violence are funny in and of themselves. They are not. Instead joking about them is a way to lighten the load, so to speak.

Humorist Alan Mott recently wrote a blog about an event that occurred on his twitter site. He told a joke that compared him finding out that Kari Byron would no longer be working on the television show Mythbusters with the 9/11 terror attacks.
Where were you on September 11, when Allan found out that his favourite TV redhead who isn't Christina Hendricks was no longer mythbusting?
The joke is only moderately funny to me. But hey, Mr. Mott can make a living out of being funny. I can't. So who am I to criticize? Besides, the joke isn't really what I was going to discuss anyway. It is something that he said in his blog that really caught me:
At my mom’s memorial service I didn’t prepare a speech, but instead went up in front of everyone and told my favourite anecdote about the time she asked my dad what religion he was–over 30 years into their marriage. I told it because I thought it was funny and in that moment it felt better to laugh than it did to cry. To some people it might have been inappropriate. I could see them being offended by my refusal to discuss her passing with solemn, respectful dignity, but I knew that wasn’t the path I could take to endure the worst moment of my life. By making “light” of something, we are also making it less “heavy”–what might seem like a lack of reverence to some is actually a survival tactic for others. That joke isn’t intended to trivialize the tragedy, but instead to keep the teller from being crushed under the agonizing weight of it. - See more at:
I think it's like that for me too as well as for my students who laugh at the "slippery slope" joke. Drugs and I would argue government hypervigilance have devastated the rural Southwest. Drugs are where the money is. They are where the power is. They are where the danger is. People who can take a risk in the drug trade can get rich or die trying. My students are, in many ways, shell shocked. I would bet half of them suffer from some kind of PTSD because of violence related in some way to drugs. It is hard for them. It is hard for me. So, sometimes, you just have to laugh.

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