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Author Topic: Seriously, the joke is dead.
robbie_dee
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 195

posted 26 May 2005 11:46 AM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
In case you missed its obituary, the joke died recently after a long illness, of, oh, 30 years. Its passing was barely noticed, drowned out, perhaps, by the din of ironic one-liners, snark and detached bons mots that pass for humor these days.

The joke died a lonely death. There was no next of kin to notify, the comedy skit, the hand-buzzer and Bob Newhart's imaginary telephone monologues having passed on long before. But when people reminisce about it, they always say the same thing: the joke knew how to make an entrance. "Two guys walked into a bar"; "So this lady goes to the doctor"; "Did you hear the one about the talking parrot?" The new humor sneaks by on little cat feet, all punch line and no setup, and if it bombs, you barely notice. The joke insisted on everyone's attention, and when it bombed - wow.

"A joke is a way to say, 'I'm going to do something funny now,' " said Penn Jillette, the talking half of the comedy and magic duo Penn & Teller and a producer of "The Aristocrats," a new documentary about an old dirty joke of the same name. "If I don't get a laugh at the end, I'm a failure."

It's a matter of faith among professional comics that jokes - the kind that involve a narrative setup, some ridiculous details and a punch line - have been displaced by observational humor and one-liners. Lisa Lampanelli, who describes herself as the world's only female insult comic, said that in the business, straight jokes were considered "the kiss of death."

"You don't tell joke jokes onstage ever," she said. "Because then you're a big hack."


New York Times

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From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6943

posted 26 May 2005 01:29 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It's a matter of faith among professional comics that jokes - the kind that involve a narrative setup, some ridiculous details and a punch line - have been displaced by observational humor and one-liners.

Y'know, I've always wondered where exactly narrative jokes originate. I've asked friends for their theories on this, and the usual response is some variation of "well, people just make them up". But then I wonder WHICH people? I don't think I've ever been in a social situation where people have concocted a narrative joke(unlike puns, parody songs, and observational humour, which I have seen concocted at parties, drinking sessions, etc).

Someone else suggested to me that comedians and comedy writers make up these jokes, but then I've seen few(if any) TV comics telling narrative jokes, so I kinda doubt that explanation as well.

The premise of the above article seems to be that there was, in fact, a time when comedians made up narrative jokes, but that those days are over. Interesting.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
robbie_dee
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 195

posted 26 May 2005 01:41 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The article also suggests that joke-telling was a predominantly male ritual, and that changes in gender relationships have changed the type of humour that's most popular.

quote:
Around the same time, said John Morreall, a religion professor and humor scholar at the College of William and Mary, the roles of men and women began to change, which had implications for the joke.

Telling old-style jokes, he said, was a masculine pursuit because it allowed men to communicate with one another without actually revealing anything about themselves. Historically women's humor was based on personal experience, and conveyed a sense of the teller's likes and dislikes, foibles and capacity for self-deprecation.

The golden age of joke telling corresponded with a time when men were especially loathe to reveal anything about their inner lives, Mr. Morreall said. But over time men let down their guard, and comics like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and later Jerry Seinfeld, embraced the personal, observational style.

"A very common quip was, 'Women can't tell jokes,' " Mr. Morreall said. "I found that women can't remember jokes. That's because they don't give a damn. Their humor is observational humor about the people around that they care about. Women virtually never do that old-style stuff."

"Women's-style humor was ahead of the curve," he said. "In the last 30 years all humor has caught up with women's humor."

The mingling of the sexes in the workplace and in social situations wasn't particularly good for the joke either, as jokes that played well in the locker room didn't translate to the conference room or the co-ed dinner party. And in any event, scholars say, in a social situation wit plays better than old-style joke telling. Witty remarks push the conversation along and enliven it, encouraging others to contribute.

Jokes, on the other hand, cause conversation to screech to a halt and require everyone to focus on the joke teller, which can be awkward.


I am not sure if I buy this argument, as I have certainly known a few women who told great jokes. I do agree that joke-telling is about being the "center of attention," while other types of wit are more amenable to back-and-forth banter. I was always more of a "heckler" rather than a "joke-teller" myself.

[ 26 May 2005: Message edited by: robbie_dee ]


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6943

posted 26 May 2005 02:31 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
am not sure if I buy this argument, as I have certainly known a few women who told great jokes. I do agree that joke-telling is about being the "center of attention," while other types of wit are more amenable to back-and-forth banter. I was always more of a "heckler" rather than a "joke-teller" myself.

Plus, I've always found the back-and-forth banter to be a pretty big aspect of male socializing as well. And, it usually ends up with a few of the "alpha wits" becoming the centre of attention. Not that I mind that.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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Babbler # 6943

posted 26 May 2005 02:32 PM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The mingling of the sexes in the workplace and in social situations wasn't particularly good for the joke either, as jokes that played well in the locker room didn't translate to the conference room or the co-ed dinner party.

This kind of assumes that all jokes are of the "locker room" variety, which I don't think is quite true.


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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Babbler # 2116

posted 26 May 2005 02:38 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
...a religion professor and humor scholar at the College of William and Mary...

Wait, I know this one - the religion professor and the humour scholar are at the pearly gates and St. Peter goes...


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Erstwhile
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4845

posted 26 May 2005 02:42 PM      Profile for Erstwhile     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by voice of the damned:

Y'know, I've always wondered where exactly narrative jokes originate.



Isaac Asimov suggested in one of his short stories that narrative jokes were part of a sophisticated humour experiment by advanced aliens. The narrative jokes were introduced by alien observers....hence, no one ever knew where they originated.

"Spontaneous" humour (puns in particular) rarely provoke the same humour reaction - this was a safeguard to ensure that the alien study remained undistorted by natural "human" humour.

Okay, entirely irrelevant to the thread, but I found the story entertaining when I read it lo those many years ago...


From: Deepest Darkest Saskabush | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
robbie_dee
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 195

posted 26 May 2005 03:55 PM      Profile for robbie_dee     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My favorite was always this one:

A minister, a priest, and a rabbi walk into a bar.

The bartender takes one look at the three of them and says: "This must be a joke."


From: Iron City | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged

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