Elevating Your Funnybone – Avoiding Crass Humor and Humorists

I know we live in a permissive society. I know this not from the lewd magazines, but from the level to which our humor particularly in comedy lounges and on TV has sunk.Take this comedian who until a few years ago was really working hard at his jokes. He made a specialty of telling jokes about first time immigrants, and those who just could not leave their culture behind, but had to foist it on other citizens and residents of the US. Originally from Canada, he now resides in California.Over the last 10 years that I have watched him, he has really become an object of pity. His jokes no longer bring laughs and in every instance, many of his earlier fans have abandoned him, because he is now truly scraping the bottom of the humor barrel. In fact, he has taken to complaining to the audience that he is being discriminated against—when the sad fact is that he has stopped being funny.So here are some tips on what type of humor deserves a good laugh..1. To be truly humorous, a comedian must draw from real life experiences, ones that occur every day. The reason for this is that everyday occurrences are usually forgotten, because no one goes out of the way to look for humor. When a comedian sees humor in a commonplace event or discussion, you are suddenly forced to look at that event from a new perspective, a more pleasant, light hearted perspective and it resonates with you.2. Humor must be elegant. I know it is kind of old fashioned, but just watch the episodes of “All in the Family” or “Wings”, or in the modern day TV, “Seinfeld” or “What’s my Line” or the British sitcoms, “Keeping up Appearances” and “As Time Flies By”and you will understand what I mean. None of these shows used vulgarity, or referred to gross bodily functions or made indecent innuendos to drive home their humor. Even racial jokes were elegant and decorous. Now watch some of the comedians. They frequently use four-letter words. This should be your first clue that they are not very smart comedians. Usually people use profanity when they run out of ideas.3. Humor should not be cruel. Making someone’s tragedy a butt of jokes is not only inhuman, it shows lack of intelligence and empathy. Why would you put up with someone who does that? I once heard a comedian make a joke about Gestapo camps. I wrote to him that he desperately needed new, intelligent material because his humor was crossing lines of decency.4. We can find humor in the most ordinary events. Just think of people waiting to buy stamps–someone is talking on the cell phone and suddenly you realize that his or her whole life is being played back for you, at no charge. Don’t you have the urge to tap that person on the shoulder and say, “thanks, you light up my life–I was being bored to death waiting for my 5 first-class stamps! I am so glad you are leaving your old boy friend, planning to screw your partner out of profits and lie on your tax return!” See, there is a joke you can safely and decently tell and get laughs.5. Humor should be subtle. Unfortunately, our comedians think they need to be in your face. Bob Hope used to deliver the best jokes because when he finished his punch line, you had to think for a couple of seconds. Take his line about city of Tuskaloosa. Here is what he said—“when my agent first called me to book me there, I said, “that sounds like an elephant with a toothache—are you sure that is a city?”If we become more discerning in our evaluation of what is truly funny, we will drive the mediocre and profane comedians out of business. And that is good for the humor industry because it will revert to hard working and thinking comedians.