The Set-Up, the Punch, The Set-Up, the Punch

The other day at the breakfast table I asked our second-grade grandson if he ever liked to have a coupla smokes before breakfast and he ‘got’ right away that I was joking. A four-year-old might not have gotten it but you wouldn’t try this with a four-year-old.

What’s funny is practically a science when you get thinking about it.

People laugh when they’re getting tickled, yes, but younger siblings the world over know that being tickled led does not, in anyone’s universe, mean that you’re having fun. Tickling can be aggressive, even mean. In my book any tickle that last longer than two or three seconds is just one person trying to show dominance.

So what’s funny, would YOU say?

Some people think puns are funny. I am not one of them but that’s fine, that’s cool.

Some find animal photos funny when the animals are seen doing human things, like when a dog looks to be driving……

It’s funny when the mighty are brought low; Aristotle saw this long ago, and I believe the Three Stooges would agree. (Just think of all those stuffy gents and dowagers they were always upending.) The big laughs in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night come when the pompous head steward shows up in Act Four festooned like the decorations at a pre-schooler’s birthday party, all because some happy lowlifes have forged a letter leading him to think Milady wished to see him thus dressed.

Kurt Vonnegut writes that all comic writing consists of the set up and the punch, the set up and the punch. An example: on the lecture circuit once, he said, “Those who believe in Telekinetics, raise my hand.” Ha! A good one!

What I find funny are unexpected images. If I tell a story that makes a reader smile. it’s because he or she can visualize the scene.

the unexpected is often funny, as I was saying on that Halloween post. It’s funny when the twinkly grandmother casually asks a seven-year-old about his smoking preferences. Incongruity is funny. In fact I know what, let’s cut to the chase: here’s Will Ferrell in the much-emailed clip from Funny Or Die where he plays a tenant late on his rent when the nasty landlord shows up. The best moment of all comes the second he opens the door, check it out.

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