If It Bends, It's Funny
Funny, to be told to ‘be funnier’. Words spit out ad nauseum by demanding editors worldwide. Words slung like slop to underpaid writers. Bosses who, I’m guessing, the minute you look away, are over by the water cooler doing their best to impress Ms. or Mr. Jones. Whoa. Well, I am such a writer and, as soon as I finish here, and he walks the fuck away - see you later Ms. J - I will offer a rare view of what humor looks like today to us scribes-on-a-deadline. “Ok, ok, I’m back at the desk. I’m typing [klak, klak, klak sound], see, look, I’m writing; it’s funny, you’ll see.” Memo from Clark to Perry White: ‘Go fuck yourself.’
Film View: Looking at the top 10 comedy films of the millennium for some guidance in writing humor. Yes, the whole millennium. What, ADHD? For fuck’s sake it’s only been 17 years, and practically no films. Ok, then. The best movies according to some shmuck who made this decision, in descending order: Horrible Bosses, Hot Tub Time Machine, The World’s End, We’re the Millers, What We Do in the Shadows, The Other Guys, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 21 Jump Street, Neighbors, This is the End. I was hoping Seth Rogen was in more than just the top two so I could prove a point about how convoluted this list is. He’s not; I can’t. The idea that, for my money, the funniest film of the bunch is a New Zealand production, totally skews the exacting scientific formula I was going to use to proof the theorem. We’re fucked here.
TV View: Ok. Now hold on a minute. We don’t just look at film as the be-all/end-all in proving the irrelevancy we seek. Indeed, it’s more likely we will find a truer answer, especially if we are looking for one that is devoid of meaning and relevance to the universe, or our lives for that matter. The ‘box’. Television. TV. For TV, let’s cover the top 10 comedies over a 15-year span, commencing with the start of the Millennium…if you can even remember that far. The list suggested by these unnamed, deep-throat-like sources I use contains, 1-10: Arrested Development, Curb your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Malcolm in the Middle, The Office, Louie, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met your Mother, Weeds. This is better. In the first place, there ain’t no Seth Rogen to deal with. Clearly, there was some missed opportunity for right-off-the-bat humor in a show’s title. Wouldn’t Malcolm in the Middle sound a lot funnier as ‘Malcolm is the Middle?’ And how about simply going with ‘The Big Bang'? Imagine the possibilities. Believe me, at this point I don’t give a rat’s ass.
Let’s face it fellow shmucks, ‘funny’ changes; ‘funny’ is fluid. One minute it can be ‘Margaret Thatcher naked on a rainy day’, and the next it’s our treacherous S-I-C talking smack, a la: "hey, I love to grab women by their pussies.” Nothing says ‘funny’ like a world leader dehumanizing or marginalizing others. These days, much of the humor FS appreciates comes from a handful of pundits, scribes and stand-ups who represent today’s comedic artistes. You know the club: Colbert, O’Brien, Maher, Kimmel, Oswalt, C.K.; there are others…you all make me smile. Johnny Carson you’re the best. Oh, what, too soon? You understand. ‘Funny’ is what you think it is. More importantly, I suppose it really is what the end-user thinks it is. If a guy picking his toes in Poughkeepsie cannot see the humor in Maggie T’s inverted nipples, when it’s fucking raining of all things, then there’s little hope for humor. If you believe you hit the motherlode of mirth in a Seth Rogen or Adam Sandler project, the light on the humanity candle flickers weakly.
Yet, there remains a universal truth to measuring merriment as once suggested in a bespectacled-comic genius’s film: “If it’s funny it bends….if it breaks, it isn't.” Applying this quaint, meta-astrophysical algorhythmic equation against the core joke of a film, I believe, is the true test. Get out your opisometers. Let’s test another comic genius’s shot at hilarity:
A couple attempting to avoid the mob, race away on the man’s speedboat. The man is out-of-his-head, batty-in-love with the fleeing moll, herself a desperate, tow-headed wretch wearing a miserable face. The man proposes marriage. The woman demurs.
He: “Why not?”
She: “Coz I’m a man.”
He: “Well, no one’s perfect!”
See it bend?