I once heard it said that all comedy is derived from some form of misery. I wish I could deck the guy who said it, as that is not only a sadistic, but incredibly erroneous and harmful notion. It’s fitting that the guy himself was painfully unfunny. The type who believes himself to be on par with the great ones and has the comedic prowess and charisma of a wet, store-brand piece of bread crust at the bottom of the bag left out in the backseat of a car for two weeks.
I believe this mentality to come from the same place most generic mentalities come from: a need for an excuse. How many times have you slogged through a “conversation” with someone who truly believed that offensive comedy was genuinely smart or groundbreaking? How many “ironic” racist or misogynist “jokes” have you had to listen to just so the walking-talking embodiment of standing in line at the DMV would leave sooner? How many people have you met that honest to god think that South Park has anything of value to say and should be incorporated into anyone’s philosophy on life whatsoever?
It’s exhausting. Comedy is so often used as an excuse to be hateful under the guise of sticking it to PC culture that you might as well drive a nail through your skull rather than visit a comedy club. At least then you’ll experience something new. Vanilla comedy is a wasteland. The same rote, repetitious opinions played over and over, each jackass who says them believing they are the first to say it and that “nobody else would dare to say what I say in our society today.”
They do. And they have. And you’re not funny or worth anyone’s time.
That is why I love absurd humor so very, very much. Because it proves those people are wrong and bad at being comedic. Oh, and it’s funny or something. That part is equally important…equally. Sure. Yeah…
To explain absurd humor is to teach the moon to tap-dance. It’s simply not something that can be done. Whenever a relative asks me why I’m laughing, I have to tell them the truth–that it would take far too long to explain and is too many layers deep. The most bizarre image takes you on an adventure. The secrets of the most diamond-quality posts are unbreakable. Jovial jokes mean nothing unless you’ve already battled the human tendency to want things to make sense. To fully enjoy a world of humor with no rules and no limits, you must steel yourself, ball up whatever is left of your need for order, and run into the strange and esoteric headfirst.
The reward for this is a simple one: the ability to laugh without a target.
There’s no way around the hard truth that humor, whether intentionally malicious or not, can and does hurt people. Perhaps the reason a person will defend their statement with “it’s just a joke!” is because it’s easier to defend than to admit wrongdoing and experience the weight of empathy, and they are just too weak to handle that weight. Or maybe they’re just a dick. Regardless, to be such a person is to never experience joyful humor in its most potent form–pure laughter. Laughter that causes no scars or bruises to another person. laughter that doesn’t punch down or sideways. Laughter that is derived from the chaos of something harmless and unexplained. Laughter is one of the simplest ways to experience joy, but what’s the point of joy if the price is someone else’s sorrow? Why bother to smile if, in order to do so, you have to be cruel to someone who doesn’t deserve it? Punch-up humor is one thing, but to resort to punch-down humor is cheap, lazy, and uninspired. If you can’t form a joke that punches up or you don’t want to punch at all, the silly, strange world of meaningless comedy is a haven where all who experience it can laugh together.
And if we can’t laugh together in our dystopian Hell future, why bother to laugh at all?