Why do I do it? Why do I laugh at things I should not? For instance, when someone from Howard Stern's "whack pack", his personal collection of mentally challenged misfits with various speech impediments, talks about anything? How about when Andrew "Dice" Clay profanely rants about females in ways that set women (and men for that matter) back a thousand years? What about one of the most politically incorrect shows on cable TV today, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I laugh my butt off every time Larry David pathetically wrestles with race or sexuality or death or handicaps. And I can not leave out Chris Rock cursing his way through a monologue about the plight of fathers whose daughters are strippers.
I might just as well laugh at a train wrecks. And I do – not at real train wrecks – but at comedy train wrecks.
I used to think "you either get it or you do not". But I'm not so sure anymore. When I crack up and cough up a lung because a ten year old girl thinks Larry David, whom she encounters in a ladies restroom, has a giant erection, am I being blindly insensitive to child molestation? When I chuckle at a really mean-spirited racial slur Imus's sidekick bigot, Bernard, blurts out, am I promoting hate and fear? I'd like to think I'm laughing at his ignorance but I'm not positive.
I'm not completely without scruples. I laugh just as hard at some of the all time great "clean" comics: Bill Cosby, Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld, Flip Wilson, Steve Martin. I think Napoleon Dynamite might just be the funniest movie I have ever seen and it was clean. I even laugh at myself a lot. I'm almost always self entertained by my own stupidity; like the time I was cutting down some brush with a dull hand-held sickle, disturbed a bee hive and chopped a yellow jacket in half that was stinging my left forearm with the sickle, of course leaving a three inch cut in my arm for the effort. Or the time I locked my newborn son and keys in the car in sub-freezing weather the first day I was allowed to watch him on my own. Even my short stories about growing up in the Sixties generate laughs at my personal reputation's expense, what little I have that is.
It's not like a want to laugh at the cost of others' pain. Well, that's not completely true. I do laugh at people who slip on ice or walk into glass doors. But only after I'm sure they are okay. I guess nothing tickles me more than a hair piece folded back or a booger flapping free in the nostril of the unaware. It's almost a knee jerk reaction. I do not know, I just can not help it. I'll say this, I'm not proud of it sometimes, if that helps at all.
I guess it's like music. You know how some people say, "oh, I like all kinds of music: rap, country, pop, punk, Manalow, System of a Down, Mozart"? Well that's how I feel about humor. I like all kinds: stand up, sit coms, ad lib, filthy, clean, sight gags, accidents.
However, there are some types I do not like, making me a tad more complicated than a total ignoramus. I do not like ethnic stuff, like "dumb Pollock" or "drunk Irishman" jokes. They seem to me to maintain cultural myths that cloak an underlying bigotry, a position that those who love such jokes disdainfully tag as politically correct. And how about those jokes about people with no arms and legs – wassup with that? I'm not a fan of elephant jokes either – I just do not get them. Hmm … I guess there is such a thing as "getting it or not".
Unfortunately, I have that dark side though; like that classic bit by Kinison about what goes on in the mind of a dead man being raped by the mortician's sick assistant. Now that was funny but in an ashamed-of-myself way. I know it's wrong. I even scream, 'oh that's so wrong' as I bellow in doubled-over hysteria.
So why then do I laugh? Well, probably because I think it's funny … dah. And why do I find this stuff funny? Maybe in the case of Clay or Rock, it's the shock. Maybe in the case of Martin or Regan, it's the delivery. Maybe in the case of Seinfeld or David, it's the predictability that there is humor in the most odd scenarios. Maybe in the case of Winters or Williams, it is the unpredicatability of the ad lib.
Maybe I simply have a defective brain stem. Whatever the reason, I'd rather be this way then never laugh at all, you know, like dentists and Dick Cheney.
[I know, you probably do not like cheap dentist and obligatory Cheney jokes.]