THE ELEMENTS OF THE JOKE

Sigmund Freud photo

Sigmund Freud avowed:
“One can’t express aggression and sexual drive directly, as it is prohibited in the society, so these desires get sublimated in telling “jokes.” If you look at jokes, they are either about somebody getting hurt, or they have sexual connotations.”

Marvin Minsky, a pioneer of artificial intelligece, added:
“There are not only general social prohibitions. There are also things your mother told you not to do – like stick your finger into your eye. So when you tell a story about something stupid, you attack the rules of common sense in a safe and socially acceptable manner.”

Do you agree? Did your presentation in class fall into either of these categories?

  1. Avatar of Nazana Weeks

    Joke link: http://www.jokes.net/theemail.htm

    Satire is often been used as a way of trying to lessen ridiculous behavior or actions by making fun of it. Satire has two basic forms, Horatian and Juvenalian. According to Robert Harris, Horatian satire is “in general, a gentler, more good humored and sympathetic kind of satire, somewhat tolerant of human folly even while laughing at it […] Horatian satire tends to ridicule human folly in general or by type rather than attack specific persons.” This type of satire is contrasted by Juvenalian satire that, according to Harris, “attacks particular people, sometimes thinly disguised as fictional characters. While laughter and ridicule are still weapons as with Horatian satire, the Juvenalian satirist also uses withering invective and a slashing attack.”
    The joke that I chose to tell is a form of Horatian satire. Growing up in the computer age, we all have memories of sending a digital message to the wrong person. Whether it was sending that intimate ‘for you baby’ text to your uncle instead of your girlfriend, or selecting ‘reply-all’ instead of ‘reply’ when responding to a class e-mail saying ‘I don’t want to work with … because I hate her guts.’ The joke tries to stop us from making these embarrassing mistakes by having us laugh about it. In these situations, most times both the sending and receiving parties are pitied. In the joke, we pity the husband for not knowing his wife’s email address or having it saved. We sympathize with the wife for not receiving her husband’s update. And most of all, we pity the poor widow for thinking that her husband was destined to hell, and she shares the same fate. So the next time you send an e-mail or a text, double check the recipient’s address or you might cause a widow some more grief.

  2. Avatar of Zach Seymour

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGOohBytKTU

    I only discovered Flight of the Conchords in the past year. Actually, that is a little unfaithful: I had heard of them but never listened. They bill themselves as “New Zealand’s fourth-most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” and that name embodies the humor in the group. I am a fan of their live work (my personal favorite being the clip I presented and linked above) but their popular, self-titled series on HBO is also very good and probably more immediately “humorous.”

    Their humor often depends heavily on the “shock value” of their New Zealand-ness, the accent mainly (One particularly hilarious episode of the series is one in which a fruit stand will not let them purchase fruit because he believes they are from Australia). This, as well as their straight, deadpan delivery makes their music particularly enjoyable for me.

    1. Avatar of Syeda Hasan

      I would agree that in western civilizations (and increasing numbers from the east) jokes are used to let out inappropriate behavior or words to society. I also think though that mindset through culture influences whether one would consider a joke, a “joke.” I know my parents would never appreciate sexual jokes etc. Only people with no class, make such jokes to get some attention. Since they wouldn’t be funny, my parents wouldn’t consider these inappropriate ones, jokes. They’re just plain stupid. Now parents from more western thinking may feel awkward listening to them in front of children because they don’t want to teach kids the wrong things, but they still can find those jokes hilarious and tell them amongst each other.

      But of course, not all jokes just deal with social no-nos. Political jokes and just plain stupid-funny/witty jokes are the types my parents go for. I remember at the comedy club, one of the comics Chirad (if that’s how you spell it) talked about how he missed Bush because he was great to make fun of. Bush was so stupid that it took no effort. Then he joked about how, when our own president was dodging shoes, a comedian could just take the whole week off (which was very true because when my dad and I watched it, it just KILLED us). That episode was a combination of politics and stupidity.

      Likewise, I get most of my comedy from tv shows, like friends, scrubs, glee, community, and the office. They generally have a mix of wit, sarcasm (my favorite), and awkward situations. The inappropriate jokes usually are tied into the awkward skits.

      For my skit, I chose one of Ms. Swan’s from MadTv. In class we brought up the issue of racism, and the fact that we like to make fun of immigrants. No doubt her accent adds to hilarity, but I think it goes deeper than the foreignness, for me anyway. Ms. Swan is awkward and people don’t understand her because of her inability to communicate well. Some may think this is a trait of an immigrant, but I feel that Ms. Swan knows what she wants. She may seem stupid and definitely act that way, but at times, she’s blatant and clever (as in the time she got a free burger after annoying the cashier to death). In another one, where she’s a gay bar, she tries to get the attention of two guys who are obviously just into each other. They mistake her for a waitress and ask for some drink, but she says “Hey…I’m not your bitch.” Those aggressive (and sometimes passive aggressive) moments show a part of her not so naïve side. Knowing that she isn’t as stupid as she seems, nullifies the idea that she’s an ignorant immigrant.

      She is also sarcastic. Ms. Swan can never answer a simple question, which infuriates people. This may be another point for the anti-immigrant, but again, there is something about her that tells me that she likes to do it on purpose. She herself isn’t frustrated, as immigrants usually are when trying to communicate. She’s actually perfectly calm, and doesn’t stop passively attacking people. In the end, I feel that it’s her overall personality that makes us laugh, and not her ethnic background.

      1. Avatar of Lana Guardo

        Masculinity and egocentrism may very well be the driving forces behind stand up comedians. Standing center-stage, controlling the room, demanding our attention, and explaining to us the world through their own opinion, comedians can appear as selfish attention-hogs. Is it possible that the people we seek comedy from are pompous know-it alls—or could they be misunderstood, lonely, attention-starved little boys and girls, searching for the approval of some absent parent? In either case, it is safe to say that manly men and crass material are more successfully funny than feminine women and light, clean humor.
        Why is it that humor tends to have a masculine flare? I have searched the web only to discover that an effeminate and female comedian has a more difficult time getting a laugh in front of an audience than a man, or a less “girly” female. Here is a clip of comedian Dane Cook, an aggressive and powerful 37 year-old male comedian. (I apologize–I am trying to figure out how to post this properly) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F75VOyJpEIw&feature=PlayList&p=D17201DA0359A3B4&index=0&playnext=1 On December 25, 2008, Dane Cook performed in Arizona—the name of his show was “Viscous Circle”. He stood on a circular stage, under a heavy spotlight, dead center in an otherwise pitch-black arena. The setting of Dane Cook’s performance displays the masculinity and egocentrism that accompanies his comedy. At one point during this clip he actually stops before making a joke to say “everybody look, all eyes on me.” Often yelling his jokes into his audience, Cook is a huge success.
        Similarly, comedian Marina Franklin performs masculine humor making references to crass subjects such as domestic violence, sexual affairs and a severe lack of self-respect for herself as a woman. Marina is also a huge success on stage.
        Comedy is most certainly an art that is open to interpretation and can be viewed differently by each individual. I, however, have learned that a clean and simple-spoken “olive” joke will not get you very far—at least not in front of a Monday/Wednesday CHC class.

        1. Avatar of Kathleen M. O'Donnell

          I think Freud’s statement is true in many contexts. Sexual humor litters television, film, comics, and just about every form of communication or art. I believe humor reflects taboo subjects in order to make light of them, to convey that life is not something to always take too seriously. Also, even though pretty much everyone acts embarrassed when they are confronted with this kind of comedy, they love it. In my experience, people find these jokes the funniest and crave for this kind of humor. It’s funny in itself that people want to hear what they pretend they don’t want to hear.

          I also agree with Marvin Minsky’s philosophy. Talking about defying common sense is always funnier then the act of defiance. When you do something stupid, it usually isn’t funny to you, but it is funny to your witnesses. Making a joke out of the situation or talking about comical scenarios removes hurt feelings and just becomes funny.

          My comedy presentation in class definitely reflected the humor in someone being hurt. At the end of the scene I chose from The Princess Bride, Fizzini drops dead. This is hysterical because he was just such an annoying character and is very (unjustly) condescending. The audience appreciates his death as well as the abrupt and funny way in which it happens.

          1. Avatar of Tanvir Jahan

            I showed an episode of Spongebob Squarepants titled “Sailor Mouth.” The video can be seen here: http://www.livevideo.com/video/4EB45B7C072F408B8BEC008ED03BD79C/spongebob-squarepants-sailor.aspx

            Generally, Spongebob is known for its good, clean humor. People find it funny for its originality, wittiness, and unforeseen punchlines. Many factors contribute to its sense of engagement and entertainment such as the setting, character personalities, and repeating themes. Many jokes are made possible due to the paralleling of human society with a personified underwater society. People find Spongebob’s character funny because of his innocence and naivete while living an adult lifestyle. Patrick (the starfish) is funny for his moronic sense of humor and idiotic ideas and advice. As for Mr. Krabs, his emotional sensitivity, authoritative position, and stinginess make him a well-fitting character and an excellent restaurant manager.

            The type of humor presented in this particular episode is quite different from most other episodes, yet many of the same themes are present. Spongebob learns some new words and is oblivious to the true nature of their meaning. Patrick’s ridiculously humorous ideas almost gets Spongebob fired and Mr. Krabs harangues them. The way in which the words are presented draws parallels with the current use of profanity in our society, making this episode lean a bit towards PG-13. The shock in seeing such content in an otherwise childish and educational show makes this episode classic.

            Freud’s and Minsky’s analyses of jokes and humor are not consistent with most of the Sponegbob series, but they do appear to coincide with the “Sailor Mouth” episode. Since much of profanity relates to certain sexual themes, its use in general may induce some sexual implications in this episode. Certainly, this episode is an example of attacking the rules of common sense to twist something that’s socially prohibited into something acceptable as comedy.

            1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

              Here’s Robert Keser on the Sponge Bob phenomenon: “He’s a Candide for the 21st century, facing the everyday predicaments of the human condition with a sunny optimism and unreasonable zest that seem borderline manic, but then he’s only a kid. His user-friendly presence attracts more than just rugrats and teens, commanding a TV viewership with adults reportedly in the majority. He’s cult cartoon hero SpongeBob SquarePants, above all an angel of tolerance, fair play, and honesty, who unwittingly breaks the rules in his zeal to follow them, all while maximizing the potential fun in any endeavor.”

              http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/49/sponge.htm

            2. Avatar of Andrew Salimian

              EPortpoflios wouldn’t let me put the links in my original message because it thought i Was spamming so I’m including them in separate posts. I’m sorry I have to do it this way. They should load…
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQhGO7mMckc&feature=related

            3. Avatar of Andrew Salimian

              I did John Heffron. His comedy is a perfect representation of classic American storytelling. How many funny family anecdotes do we all have? Heffron utilizes his exceptional story telling abilities to create lively, humorous stories while relating to his audience.
              His humor is targeted towards middle class America. I was born in middle class Queens Village and lived in even more middle class Long Island for most of my life. I feel like I can relate to Heffron. I can understand some of my classmates could not relate.
              What John Heffron does well is his execution of the joke. With the confidence and stage presence of a true comedian he demotes the audience to a second class (second to himself of course). He maintains many traditions of Western European culture. His act hearkens back a feel reminiscent of the Nordic bard or a court performer, an outsider who, for one performance, is the supreme authority.
              Heffron uses traditional storytelling with modern subjects and manages to introduce traditional clean humor to a new generation.

              1. Avatar of Hyeondo Luke Hwang

                Hmm. What moves us to helplessly laugh during the short, ten-minute clip of a Japanese comedy show is based on the following powerful factors..

                First is the element of surprise that permeates throughout the clip. To begin with, none of us knows the Japanese language and has no clue as to what will unfold. Plus, the six people sitting around a desk at the beginning of the clip seem perfectly ordinary, but of course, what they plunge themselves into, especially in a place that is called library, is incredibly surprising and funny. Actually, we take much delight in the fact that they are in a library and that they are not allowed to laugh at their leisure. Hearing the suppressed laugh from the “survivors” of every round made us laugh, and seeing the victim silently receive the punishment also made us laugh because what the victim has to go through is so ridiculous sometimes. At the beginning of every round, the contestants and the viewers alike see the one-line description of the torture that the soon-to-be victim must suffer, and when we see “Old Man Bites Tenderly” or “Hitted hip” we wonder for a short moment what the torture will be like. We never know what would happen next; I didn’t see the old man or the baseball player coming. Hence, the element of surprise is at work behind every round.

                Secondly, the sadistic pleasure that the contestants derive from the suffering of the victim is just so funny. Indeed, it is easy to laugh at someone else slipping on a banana peel but for that person, it is tragedy. It seems like the contestants don’t have any pity towards the victim. What was funny throughout the clip was that two or three people were constantly picked, and what bad luck for that one guy who had to eat the wasabi roll and smell bad air right afterward!

                The comedy clip doesn’t have any sexual connotations but it is about being stupid and out-of-place. Sometimes, it is about “somebody getting hurt” like Freud said and “social prohibitions.” The six people are in the library and have guts to do something like this. We learn from our mothers that it is not socially acceptable for people to do something like this in the library and laugh at other people’s being tortured. So Freud and Minsky are both right.

                1. Avatar of Raymon Ang

                  In my presentation, I showed a clip of a stand up comedy act done by Demetri Martin. The clip just reveals a taste of his comedy style, which consists of mostly one-liners. The context of his jokes appeal to the immature, child within us, but he presents it in a way that makes it more intellectual. Some of his jokes are about the small things in life that we can all relate to, some jokingly questions set idioms, and others are be one-liners that may not seem funny at first but take some thought to get. In many of his stand up performances, he says a short joke, which is followed by relative silence, and then a burst of laughter comes from the audience who has worked it out in their minds. This definitely reflects Demetri’s comedic style and even his life. In his performance in “If I” (links will be provided below), Demetri analyzes his life with subtle humor. In it, we can see his love for puzzles, his need to challenge himself and unique view of the world. This part of him comes through in his jokes.
                  I believe falls more under Marvin Minsky’s definition of a joke, as most of Demetri’s jokes do not rely on aggression or sexual connotations. Most of his jokes are about his quirky thoughts.

                  Links to If I (A self-analysis of Demetri with slight humor. It reveals his brilliance or madness, depending on how you see it):
                  Part 1- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKnzPHtf9u4
                  (follow through to part 6)

                  1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                    LA TIMES REVIEW: “Although he used to address trends on “The Daily Show,” for the most part his is a comedy that is cut loose in time. It’s cerebral — Martin is a full-bore nerd, a law school dropout who writes palindromes and makes puzzles — a kind of comedy of semiotics, exploiting the ambiguities and loopholes in words and symbols. (Which is to say, it’s a form of philosophy.)”

                    http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/11/entertainment/et-important-things11

                  2. Avatar of Susan Wu

                    For my comedy clip, I did Russell Peter’s “Beating Your Kids” act. This is a classic skit that many people of my generation have watched continuously through the internet. Russell Peters became recognized worldwide when his fans posted his acts on the internet. Most of his acts are about racism, stereotyping, and culture. Russell’s comedy usually reflects his personal experiences and observations because it makes his acts more natural and less prone to criticism. But of all things, Russell is probably best known for his sharp facial expressions (clearly funny) and his near-accuracy in imitating accents, especially the Indian accent. I also like how I can relate to his comedy, like being beat by my parents or trying to get a bargain at the Pacific Mall.

                    Going back to Freud and Minsky, I agree with both because what makes something funny is that fact that it jokes about things that people normally don’t joke about or is socially prohibited. Like Freud said, if you look at a joke, it’s usually about someone getting hurt or has sexual connotations to it. In Russell Peter’s act, he was poking fun at his childhood when he use to get beaten by his father. Is he transforming his childhood pain into laughter to lessen the degree in which it has affected him? To some extent, it may have been but I think that for him, his reflection of the past was just purely amusing. For example, when I think back at the times when my mom use to beat me, I find it funny because I was thinking about how I use to get beaten and why (with a glue-gun stick or a coat hanger and I was beaten because I was fighting with my brother – beaten twice!). The same idea also relates to Minsky – joking about stupid things that go against common sense. If not for comedy, everything that happens in society would have a serious connotation attached to it. How in the world can society go on if it’s like this? Can you imagine how many people will die because they didn’t laugh enough in their lifetime?

                    1. Avatar of Eman Elzeftawy

                      In my clip, Robin Williams was talking about how the sport of golf originated. Williams is famous for his vocal impressions and physical humor. He does stand-up, movies, voice overs, and most of his acting is improvisational. Williams is very talented and can be very controversial at times.

                      William’s clip was poking fun at the Scottish for inventing a sport like golf. He also does the clip as a drunken Scot that speaks incoherently, referencing some stereotypes.

                      I don’t feel like my clip connects with either of the above quotes, however, I really agree with Minsky’s quote. Actions and situations that are against what our parents teach us are often mentioned in comedy and are found to be funny. I see a lot of this type of humor with Russell Peters and George Lopez, when they reference something from their lives and exaggerate it.

                      Another type of humor that deals with current day issues is political/racial humor. Comedians like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin and several others talk about racial/political problems and attempt to solve it through comedy. For example, like you mentioned during class one day, Chris Rock talks about Tupac and suggests that the cost of a bullet be made $5000 to decrease the shootings that happen. Of course, it may not be the best solution, but the reference sheds some light on a current problem.

                      Humor is a way to talk about problems that happen without the tension of a serious conversation. You get a good laugh, but it leaves you thinking afterwards.

                      1. Avatar of Zolboo Bayarsaikhan

                        I believe that humor does not necessarily have to have a sexual or violent connotation. However, I do agree that humor is often something that is ridiculous or not accepted as the “Norm” in our society. For example, in this clip: from “I Love Lucy”, one can sense the redundancies, and even though the show is dated, it is still funny and appealing to many viewers (the number of views, 5 star rating and positive comments). This clip does not have a hidden sexual or violent meaning to it. Other shows such as “Spongebob Squarepants” deliver the audience good clean humor, in the sense that it does not blatantly send out violent and sexual images. So, I agree with Marvin Minsky, but would also like to add that many types of humor also break the social norm that seems to have been set by other types of comedy. For example: A website called http://www.fmylife.com had created a website where people would post extreme situations that may or may not have happened to them with the punchline: “F**k my Life”. Then a new site had come out called http://www.mylifeisaverage.com that was a complete opposite of fmylife.com. It parodies it and it breaks the norm that that site, only, created. So, it seems that once humor has been introduced to the public, it could become something that is normal and routine. This allows room for more humor to stem out of it. The clips I had brought in (Onion News Network) parodies normal news networks. They give ridiculous and sometimes offensive news materials. They do not seem to show any shock to it and the newscasters act as if it is something that could be viable in real life while to use viewers, it “attack the rules of common sense in a safe and socially acceptable manner.”

                        -Zolboo Bayarsaikhan

                        1. Avatar of Zolboo Bayarsaikhan

                          The clip from “I Love Lucy” is:
                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPy9-zVEhVY&feature=related
                          I do not know why it didn’t show in my comment.

                        2. Avatar of Mohammed Alvi

                          http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3399682084588105037#docid=-1880336258745967031

                          The reason Russel Peters is funny, or any comedian for that matter, is because they offer material the public could relate to. Who hasn’t come across a cheap Indian or a Chinese bootlegger nowadays? We’ve all experienced the very subjects that Peters ridicules. And it is the reality of the situation that makes the stand-up so hilarious. This is why his jokes appeal especially to New Yorkers. Growing up in such a culturally diverse environment exposes us to the different kinds of people and their habits. His jokes also have structure; he has references to his previous jokes as he progresses with his skit. All of this coupled with his absurd facial expressions and eerily accurate voice impressions make for a great comedian.
                          As for his relation to Freud and Minsky, I think they’re explanations hold true for Peters. Peters presents many scenarios where one would bottle up unexpressed anger or hatred. Some examples are his quarrels with his father or his run-in’s with aggressive immigrants. He makes social comments on different groups that under normal circumstances might be found offensive. No decent person would ever work up the courage to call someone a “f*ck-face” and then describe what they mean with implicative hand gestures and facial expressions, its just not done. In such a tension free environment however, Peters is able to present his cases and comically jeer at them and there absurdities. There is no “politically correct” in comedy.

                          1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                            There is still a “politically correct” in comedy but it is fading fast. Can whites make jokes about blacks on TV and get away with it? Can non-Jews makes anti-Semitic jokes and still have a career? Can a man make rape jokes? And so forth. And can’t humor create stereotypes among young people that might create bigotry?

                          2. Avatar of Chirag Shah

                            Recently I found a comedic video about the “Obama-Gandhi Dinner.” This video was done by Jay Hind-India’s First Late Night Internet Comedy Show
                            If anyone wants to see this video please do so:
                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzynWLLhYo0

                            This video was created because recently President Obama said that if he could choose one person with whom to have dinner with, he would choose Gandhi as the person since he looks up to him. Watch the video and you will know more.

                            Have fun :)

                            1. Avatar of Erhan Posluk

                              So for my video clip I chose a Mad TV skit titled “Miss Swan”
                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScKrmvMTgyA

                              This Mad TV skit features Alex Borstein as Bunny Swan, a nail salon owner who gets herself into many comical situations. Miss Swan is portrayed as a relatively simple woman by giving repetitive answers such as “He look like a man” and having a vocabulary of twenty words. With this short and repetitive form of speech comes a lack of communication between the two main characters of the skit, Miss Swan and the district attorney. The district attorney’s political career depends on what Miss Swan says, which we see isn’t much, and his frustration becomes just one more thing to laugh at. Every time the district attorney gets some sort of hope as to an answer for his question, it’s shot down by Miss Swan’s repeated and simple responses which answer nothing. This aspect of the skit is one that probably most if not all of the audience can relate to, because we’ve all been at one time or another been frustrated to our boiling points. The district attorney goes insane because of his frustration of dealing with Miss Swan, another aspect of the skit which is over dramatized and comical. Possibly the most humorous aspect of this skit would be the irony in the ending, as Miss Swan knows all along who robbed her store but couldn’t give that answer because of the attorney’s questions about the other suspects. By the time he got to the last suspect he’d gone insane and if he had stayed sane for one more suspect he’d have his robber and his election won.

                              As for Freud and Minsky’s definition of a joke, I feel that it is accurate, but it’s also important to note that comedy changes with time and people. Take for example Russell Peter’s joke about beating your kids, if it was told during the passing of child labor laws or to someone who has been a victim of child abuse, it surely wouldn’t have been viewed as comical. To me, Freud and Minsky basically state that comedy follows the same traits it always has; comedy describes situations in which something has gone wrong, after all if everything in a situation was handled appropriately there would be nothing to laugh at. However, what would be considered appropriate these days is a whole other debate, and it is my belief that we laugh at things that are different, not necessarily “wrong.” The Mad TV skit with Miss Swan certainly pertains to Freud and Minsky’s definition of a joke, as the district attorney’s struggle is a form of emotional pain and his handling of the situation is clearly inappropriate (we’ve all been taught to be patient with people, something the district attorney doesn’t display).

                              This Mad TV skit was actually the first one I ever saw and I now love it (Mad TV).. If you guys like it try checking out more Miss Swan skits on youtube. Stuart is also funny on Mad TV. Anyways I hope you all enjoyed it.

                              1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                A highly amusing skit. You possibly should have gone into the ethnic stereotyping a bit. Nevertheless, your reply exposes your long hidden intelligence and a knack for concise critiquing.

                                1. Avatar of Erhan Posluk

                                  Yeah I actually originally wrote about ethnic stereotyping (thinking that Mad TV was impersonating a Chinese immigrant possibly?) but I read on wikipedia that they never actually disclosed where she was from.. apparantly in another skit they revealed she was from Kouvaria, a made up country near the north pole so it isn’t clear who their actually aiming to impersonate… I’m also thinking that they may have not revealed her origins to avoid the possible criticism

                                  1. Avatar of Madeeha Khalid

                                    The Stage Comedy- Arab-American Comedians clip emphasizes the issue of racial profiling in American airports post 9/11. Everything Ahmed Ahmed and Dean Obeidallah describe in the clip are experiences shared my many Muslims in the North American continent. If a person has a common Arabic name like Ahmed, Khalid, Muhammad and if he looks like a “terrorist,” then the police pull him aside to ask a few “questions,” when really it is a few hours long interrogation. The police have been practicing this tactic in the MTA for a few months now and I really do not understand if the civilians feel safer if they stop every person who might be a“terrorist”. The government has brainwashed people and it has created an idea in their heads that Muslims equal danger. Therefore, Muslims have become the target/scapegoats of anything that goes wrong. As I said in class, the reason why I chose this clip was because my father went through the same questioning that Ahmed describes and because of his accent he is always laughed at. After 9/11, Americans started to view every Arab as “potential” terrorists so I couldnt help but laugh hysterically when Ahmed describes his experience with the white people on the airplane.

                                    Many of the issues that were brought up on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour are highly controversial however, with their enlightening humor and absurd facial expressions, both Middle Eastern comedians shed light on many issues that Muslims have been facing in the post 9/11 world.

                                    I hope you all enjoyed the clip because I surely did :)

                                    1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                      A fine explanation of your presentation.

                                    2. Avatar of Jamilur Reja

                                      Comedy is in a way a gateway to a world in which one can get away with almost any kind of saying or action. Whether it be the utterance of any of the “13 bad words – according to Mr. Krabs” or the simple middle finger gesture. Both Freud and Minsky make wise observations regarding jokes by comedians. We are accustomed to laughing at other people’s misery while at the same time are intrigued by any joke related to sex. The best comedians are able to take a simple concept in society, and relate it to something else. Russell Peters is great at utilizing the accent of the South Asian community and he can relate that same “gag” to other races. Minsky is right about the prohibitions. In comedy there are no prohibitions, almost any topic can be talked about and to some may be offensive and to others it might not be. Even though my presentation did not fully grasp either ideas, other shows by Russell Peters do resemble such ideologies. Most famous for jokes about other races, Russell Peters gets away with making fun of others. In a normal society you walk up to a group of people of any race, start spitting some jokes about them, and next thing you know you’re spitting out a banana peel from a garbage can. Most people do not dare ridicule others with the fear that violent retribution will occur. But with Russell, it’s okay all is safe, no one is gonna get thrown in garbage cans.
                                      Comedy allows the public to enjoy a show without worrying if they will get in trouble. In actuality a comedy club may be the only place where you can get away with saying what you want, and in return you’ll get laughs, and lots of it. Rules and regulations are necessary, but it is certain that every single person tries to find a loophole in these rules. The answer: go to google.com, search comedy club in “x” area/location, and there you go you’re all set.

                                      1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                        Kernels of wisdom are no doubt attached to your corn cob of a brain. Impressive.

                                      2. Avatar of Joenard Camarista

                                        The humor in the scene of Hot Fuzz that I presented is an outlier in contemporary British humour in that it is not heavily influenced on Freud’s aforementioned views on humor; Since, major leitmotifs of British humour are sexual innuendos and the expression of repressed sexual feelings (i.e. Monty Python’s “Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink” skit). Rather, this scene is much more clever by being a more relevant example of Marvin Minsky’s theory on humor than anything else.

                                        Due to the much more pacifist and restrained nature (compared to other western cultures — well, United States in particular) of police training and overall culture in the United Kingdom, police Bobbies typically have an especially trivial and mundane work day. On an even grander scale, the incumbent Tony Blair’s administration was very proletarian.

                                        In the first part of the segment I presented, Nicholas Angel, the main character, is introduced. However, his achievements are so lofty yet so typical for a London bobby that hearing that he is also proficient in “advanced cycling” (Wright) and was “stabbed by father Christmas” (Wright) within the same light is a major anticlimax. The second part of the segment I presented addressed the satire of Tony Blair’s administration. As Nicholas Angel argues with his supervising sergeant about his new promotion, they recount how they knew that he intended to move to the countryside via a private conversation that took place between Angel and his ex-girlfriend. On top of this, he must go through his chain of command in order to get a finite argument in. The former aspect exaggerates but emphasizes the invasion of privacy taking place during Blair’s administration while the later highlighted the perplexing bureaucracy that structured Tony Blair’s administration.

                                        In turn, the creators of “Hot Fuzz,” Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, poked fun at these conventions by juxtaposing the aforementioned context with the plot of an over-the-top cop-buddy movie and satirizing the Tony Blair administration. The result is a swift shift of our sensibilities of where they were taking us plot-wise and thought-provoking laughter (similar to that elicited by Moliere’s Tartuffe) as they emphasize the aspect of grandiose government that may have been generalized and put aside by the general public.

                                        As for my opinion on what theory best posits the most effective joke, you could obviously posit that I would prefer Minsky’s theory because of the lengthy thought needed within it’s delineated process. However, if you address both theories on humor (or as many theories as possible), you can induct a shtick that is more profoundly funny and progress within the humor epoch. Thus is the direct case with the anthology of movies by Judd Apatow. Among other theories, he utilizes Minsky’s and Freud’s theories on humor to produce shticks that sublimate repressed sexual taboos as well as poke fun at social conventions. As Joe Dassin sung in his song “Les Champs Elysees,” “Et de l’Etoile a la Concorde, un orchestre a mille cordes / Tous les oiseaux du point du jour chantent l’amor (And to the Star of Concord, form an orchestra with a thousand chords / All the birds at day-break singing for love” (Dassin).

                                        I love quoting things in French. C’est la vie (So is life).

                                        1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                          Thankfully, I’ve seen the movie you are analyzing. Consequently, I’m not having a nervous breakdown and I can clearly understand most of what you are opining.

                                          “Si, l’amour est une foiblesse
                                          C’est la foiblesse des grands coeurs.” — Quinault

                                        2. Avatar of Hyeondo Luke Hwang

                                          As Freud and Minsky commented, humor and jokes indeed serve as a veneer, underneath which exist aggression, sexual drive, racism, and many other touchy concepts… and humor really does its job when it conveys these concepts in a “safe and socially acceptable manner,” while making the audience laugh. Yes, all of this is very true, but I love humor when it’s at its basest. What I mean is that humor doesn’t really have to touch upon these socially-awkward concepts. Nor does it have to be intelligent or clever. I love things like bloopers (especially those soccer bloopers, they’re so funny), Fail blog, funny imitations and miscommunication stuff. I like humor that does not limit its audience… something that everyone sees and laughs immediately. I like visual comedy rather than, for instance, a standup comedy. It has a more universal appeal. Something that people of different backgrounds, languages, and cultures find funny… I like comedy that doesn’t require any kind of intelligent explanation. So it’s like this; I experience it, laugh my guts off, and in the next moment I find myself alive, can’t quite tell why it was funny.
                                          -Luke

                                          1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                            Do you feel that the idiotic humor that you relish has no intelligent explanation? Here’s a preacher’s take on your favorite jokes and also as a bonus why Abraham’s Sarah laughed when God told her she’d become a mother at a very late age.

                                            “INCONGRUITY AND SURPRISE
                                            What is the meaning of Sarah’s laugh? Or, for that matter, what makes any of us laugh? What constitutes humor? This may come as a surprise to you, but philosophers of the stature of Aristotle, Bergson and Schopenhauer have debated this question and written books detailing their answers. Even the great Sigmund Freud, himself as “humorless as a chicken,”2 wrote an essay entitled “Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious.” A real side-splitter, I’m sure. Throughout all of the theories, two elements seem always to be present in what makes something funny: incongruity and surprise.

                                            “Incongruity is the juxtaposition of two or three apparently contradictory or unrelated ideas or situations. Surprise comes from the introduction of something into a scheme or story—an idea, an event, a person—that is totally unexpected and unanticipated. Incongruity and surprise are closely related, of course, and are sometimes indistinguishable from one another. Both capitalize on the twist, the unforeseeable. Both jolt us out of one mental attitude into another, which may be completely and even violently opposed to the first. It’s incongruity and surprise that lie behind the humor of one-liners like Henny Youngman’s: “Take my wife. . .please.” Or Woody Allen’s: “I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I’m taking along an extra pair of underwear just in case.” In an extended way, incongruity and surprise are the dynamics behind the comic success of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

                                            “Incongruity and surprise go together in humor. But—and this is the crucial point for us in understanding Sarah’s laugh—it is possible to have humor that deals only in the incongruous and is completely without surprise. That is Sarah’s humor. She can laugh at the preposterousness, the incongruity of an old bag having a baby, of having one foot in the grave and the other in a maternity ward. But that is all she can laugh at: its incongruity. She expects no surprises from God, no novelty, no violations of the world she has grown accustomed to living in and, as a result, her laugh can be only bitter and cynical. She can hear the Lord say, “your wife will have a son;” and she can crack up in her bitterness. She cannot hear God say, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” If she could, incongruity and surprise would come together, and she would really throw her head back and laugh as she has never laughed before—and she wouldn’t cover her mouth when she did. She would be laughing and weeping at the same time.

                                            “A PRELUDE TO FAITH
                                            Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once preached a brilliant sermon on humor and faith.3 He described humor as a “prelude to faith,” meaning that it is our sense of the incongruous that can lead us to trust God. The same human faculty that enables us to laugh at an arrogant man slipping on a banana peel is what can open us up to faith. We laugh at the incongruity of the contrast between his arrogance and false dignity on {90} the one hand, and the humiliation and indignity of his fall on the other. That kind of humor can serve us very well in the everyday occurrences of our lives. It helps us to stand outside of ourselves. It can help us avoid pretense and sham. It can be a guard against taking ourselves too seriously. If you have ever had a day in which everything was going wrong, and you were able, finally, to laugh at it all—at the incongruity of what you want and what you are actually getting—then you know what I mean. This kind of laughter has saved my marriage.

                                            But let that same ability to stand outside of ourselves and to see the incongruous be extended out to the ultimate things of life, and suddenly the laughter stops. Because then we discover that we all are slipping on banana peels. For what is our position in the universe but incongruous? We aspire to eternity and slip on the banana peel of death. We aspire to greatness and slip on the banana peel of insignificance. Standing on earth, looking out at the universe, we can feel big. But standing out on the edge of the universe looking back at ourselves, we are dwarfed into nothingness. Pascal was thinking of this awkward incongruity when he described the universe as so large that “the center is. . .everywhere, the circumference nowhere.” What is man in all that? What can he be? Answers Pascal: He is “a Nothing in comparison with the Infinite, and All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between nothing and everything.”

                                            —Ben Peterson, “Keep on Laughing, Genesis 18 (Sermon).”

                                          2. Avatar of Chirag Shah

                                            I agree with Sigmund Freud in the sense that any person can say something silly in the society, offend someone else and thus be taken to court or arrested. However, a comedian would not be taken to court or arrested because the people who come to see the comedies are paying for the comedian to provide for laughter.
                                            The jokes that I had brought to share were about somebody getting hurt. For my first joke, the person who had gotten hurt was the man who was drinking eight shots of liquor because he did not have more money to pay for his services. In the second joke, the father indirectly hurt his own higher power so to speak. The father tried to mock the street dweller, but got hurt himself. What goes around comes around. I feel that I received something out of this lesson topic on comedy and learned about the different types of comedies from the last class we just had. Thank you, Professor Judell.

                                            1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                              I’m glad you proved the following quotation false:
                                              “A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.”
                                              - Anonymous

                                            2. Avatar of richithampan

                                              In the comic strip Andy Capp, the main character, Andy is a working class man who is unemployed and a lazy drunk who forces his wife Flo to do all the work. In several of the comic strips Andy often assumes that Flo will even do the task that are typically considered a man’s job such as heavy lifting and repairing things around the house. The strip’s humor often comes at Andy’s expense and plays on his character flaws; often Flo or someone else will criticize Andy and he will then proceed to do somethig that proves their point even more. One such example is when the couple goes to marriage counselling and Andy shows exacly why they’re in the first place by something he says.

                                              We discussed in class how, often times, humor can be a way of dealing with situations that may in reality be painful. If Andy and Flo were real, the situations that they face, such as alcohol addiction, poverty and unemployment, would be no laughing matter. However by portraying it a comical way, people are able to, as we discussed, exert a certain amount of control over a situation in which normally they would be powerless.

                                              1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                                A satisfactory analysis, but a little historical background would be helpful:

                                                Creator of shirking-class icon Andy Capp dies, aged 81
                                                Linus Gregoriadis

                                                Monday, 15 June 1998

                                                REG SMYTHE, creator of the ultimate working-class comic-strip hero Andy Capp, has died from cancer aged 81.

                                                Though the artist kept a low profile and worked from his home in Hartlepool until his death, Andy Capp found fame all over the world with his hallmark cloth cap, braces and chauvinism.

                                                The cartoonist once said he believed that the character’s popularity lay in the eternal power struggle between man and woman.

                                                He modelled some of Capp’s character on his father, and drew on his mother Florence for Flo, Andy’s wife.

                                                Though Andy Capp was an instant success, he started life as a violent character who beat up his wife. Smythe regretted this and turned their relationship into one more like that between mother and child, making Capp shorter and Flo more buxom. The famous fag end which was a permanent fixture on Andy’s lip disappeared at about the same time that Smythe gave up smoking.

                                                Transcending its working-class theme, the cartoon has been sold to 1,700 newspapers worldwide since it was first printed in the Daily Mirror’s northern edition in 1957.

                                                The popularity of a character who lived to drink beer and avoid work at all costs seemed to know no bounds.

                                                In Sweden they call him Tuffa Viktor, in France he’s Andre Chapeau, in Italy Angelo Capello and in Germany Willi Wakker.

                                                In Britain, Andy Capp became the subject of a stage musical and a television series and in the United States he even had his own fan club.

                                                Smythe once said of Andy Capp: “He was just there waiting: the next-door neighbour, the bloke in the local … Andy Capps are all over the place.”

                                                After the artist’s death on Saturday, Ken Layson, the Mirror’s cartoon editor, said: “He was a one-off. Reg was so prolific, there is at least a year’s supply of cartoons left …

                                                “He will be sadly missed all over the world, but especially in the North- east where he was a major celebrity.”

                                                Mr Layson said that the money he made from syndication made him a “rich man”.

                                                Smythe leaves a wife, Jean. It was his second marriage. His first wife, Vera, died last year.

                                                http://www.independent.co.uk/news/creator-of-shirkingclass-icon-andy-capp-dies-aged-81-1165100.html

                                              2. Avatar of Adam Dikker

                                                I feel that my presentation of Jackie Mason’s stand up comedy throughout the years shows a comedian that Marvin Minsky would probably approve of. For over three decades, Jackie Mason has been the authority on Jewish humor, but his bread and butter is political satire. Mason does his homework on the topics that he discusses, so whether or not people find him offensive, they can always agree that the man “knows his stuff.” I think that this is an important element that stand up has been missing for a long time. Right or left, we should all be well informed about our world, and Jackie Mason has helped society in this regard since the 1960′s. Hopefully he will continue to do so for many years to come.

                                                1. Avatar of Prof. Judell

                                                  Avoid clichés. Supply a Mason joke as an example. What is Jewish humor? How is it different from the humor of other ethnicities?

                                                2. Avatar of Aryeh Benyamin Zev Baruch

                                                  well, my joke was implying that there exists a hierarchy of professions, each one thinking itself the next level up, until you reach God Himself Whom is a mathematician, thus elevating us (mathematicians) to his lofty heights

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