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You either have a funny bone or you don't

Bea Arthur once said – in talking about her work on “Maude” and “Golden Girls” – that she thought some people were just naturally more funny than others, saying, “You either have a funny bone or you don’t.”

What do you all think? A joke can be well constructed, but do some people just have a knack for this and others don’t?

I’m always interested in comic theory and where it comes from, so this has been top of mind this morning.

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In the first grade they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I, out of my whole class, said I wanted to be a comedian. To me, at that age, making people laugh was the greatest job in the world. My parents watched a lot of comedians on HBO or whatever, and humor meant so much to me, dwelling in the silly face mirror for as long as I did, and shyly trying jokes on my classmates and neighborhood friends. Standup is one of those dreams of mine, but it takes a certain breed to get up there and kill or bomb in front of a raucous audience. I do believe in the funny or not funny theory, the way I believe in creative thinking or adaptive thinking. You can tell a joke, craft a joke, but the delivery is everything. That’s the difference between humor and being funny. Maybe lol :laughing: What do I know?

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I was just thinking about this recently - I think in regards to your question, it depends on the chemistry between the people. Either one person telling a joke to another, or a comedian on the stage telling sharing jokes and/or anecdotes with a crowd. The jokes themselves matter, but do the teller and listener(s) vibe? And: does the teller believe their own joke is funny?

In my case, there are certain people that I know or meet that I immediately hit it off with, humor wise. We either constantly tell jokes back and forth or rib/riff on each other, but either way we are able to make each other laugh. There is a certain fluidity to it. I usually feel that from someone right away, being more highly sensitive. It’s a joy to find someone whose humor just clicks with your own.

I’m a little more ‘on the edge’ when I’m trying to make people laugh from the stage. Probably because I don’t have as much practice. But I’ve dreamed on and off of doing stand-up!

Sometimes when I’m reading a poem, people will laugh at lines that I never considered to be funny. In the future I may try and push the line further, emphasize it more in readings, edit the poem to compliment the line - realizing just in writing this that getting laughter from poetry is a huge source of joy.

Maybe people who can have a funny bone and not even know it. Or some people’s funny bones are funnier, or closer to the surface, or technicolor, or embedded in their brain.

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In this age of PC cancelling, Comedy has been dying a slow and painful death. Comedy, at its core, is about Life and Truth. What used to be funny is now offensive. These innocent, slightly off-color routines offended no one 20 years ago. It’s very hard to do Comedy today, and what is being done is dull and simple-minded.
With that out of the way, I will say that I love Comedy, whether it’s on Film or Stand-Up. I’m a big slapstick and Screwball Company fan. Give me a leopard on the loose in the suburbs and a dead body in the window seat and I’m happy.
As for Stand-Up comics, the best of all has to be Bill Cosby. I know he turned out to be a sleazeball, but that has nothing to do with his work. Other outstanding comedians are Brian Regan, George Carlin, and Dave Allen.
George Carlin did a routine in 1968 called “The Indian Sergeant.” He took the Western cliches about Cowboys and reversed it, showing how something ordinary is hilarious when viewed from a different point of view. This is genius in its purest form. And I can see the eyes rolling now. It’s not PC, and that’s irrelevant.

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