I laugh at corny, childish jokes, the kind found on popsicle sticks. I laugh at dirty jokes. I laugh at racial jokes. I laugh at sexual jokes. I especially laugh at things that are supposed to be sacred & serious- religion and politics.
I don't mean to but when I know that I'm not supposed to laugh, it makes it ten times funnier.
And laughing makes some hurtful things better.
All this laughing, I think, makes me a connoisseur. I have discovered, in my studies of humor, that, as with all art, the beauty of a good comedy comes from contrast. Great comedy juxtaposes what should be with the absurdity of what is.
The absurdity, for example of a fully functioning, grown-a$$ man, peeing in his pants for the sake of convenience:
David Sedaris' humor is often called "dark" but I can't imagine why. I also don't understand why reviewers and critics label his family "dysfunctional". In his essays about his mother, father, sisters (including the actress Amy Sedaris) and brother, you can tell he loves these people. His family is just eccentric. But then, all of our families are eccentric.
And Sedaris isn't all laughs either. His essays make a joke out of selfishness, conceit, self-importance, homophobia, xenophobia, every kind of phobia- and ultimately, he leaves you not laughing but thinking about human nature. And this is another facet of Sedaris that people miss.
He's not a stand-up comic. He's an essayist. There's more to it than yuks.
Note: if you are going to listen to Sedaris on audiobook, try to find a live version, because you have to hear him with an audience.
Another author who makes me laugh out loud is Carl Hiaasen. Just reading the blurb on the dust jacket gives me a little tickle.Every single one of his characters stands on their own, with their own humor. He weaves their stories together, one plot with another and everything wraps up in the end.
I just finished Lucky You, which involves a cast of characters living in Grange , Florida, known for it's miracles- a weeping statue of the virgin Mary, a man with stigmata and an oil splotch on the highway shaped like the face of Jesus Christ. From page 243 (hardcover, 1997):
Shiner's mother overslept. The road machines woke her Hurriedly she squeezed into the bridal gown, snatched her parasol and sailed out the door. By the time she reached the intersection of Sebring Street and the highway, it was too late. The Depratment of Transportation was ready to pave the Road-Stain Jesus.
Shiner's mother shrieked and hopped about like a costumed circus monkey. She spat in the face of the crew foreman and use her parasol to stab ineffectively at the driver of the steamroller. Ultimately she flung herself facedown upon the holy splotch and refused to budge for the machines.
"Pave me, too, you godless bastards!" she cried "Let me be one with my Savior!"
The crew foreman wiped off his cheek and signaled for his men to halt work. He telephoned the sheriff's office and said: "There's a crazy witch in a wedding dress out here humping the road. What do I do?"
Two deputies arrived, followed later by a television truck.
Shiner's mother was kissing the pavement, on the place she imagined to be Jesus' forehead. "Don't you worry, Son of God," she kept saying. "I'm right here. I'm not going nowheres!"
Her devotion to the stain was remarkable, considering its downwind proximity to a flattened opposum.
Of course, we can't talk about funny literature without including some British humor. And the master of the genre across the pond is P.G Wodehouse- author of the Jeeves series. Jeeves is a resourceful butler who serves the intellectually challenged Bertram Wooster. Wooster has a talent for finding trouble and Jeeves has the genius to get him out of it.
The situations are hilarious, the kind of silly gags that make you giggle out loud in public, among strangers , causing family members to worry about you. Wodehouse's works are classic, in fact, you can read Right Ho, Jeeves right here.