I'm rather wrapped up in family disasters (my mother remains in a comatose state after a stroke) and not as focussed on writing or replying as I might be. I thought I'd turn to pet subject of mine, which is rather appropriate under the circumstances. Many people have tried to analyse humor and what makes us find things funny. What makes us laugh. One of the curious things coming out of all of that is that laughter is a reaction to the innappropriate. It's one of our ways of dealing with what should not be - whether it is a word meaning something inappropriate, or a word meaning something else besides the contextual setting, or a man walking toward the open manhole... (we know he is going to fall) and stepping straight over it and slipping on the banana peel on the far side. The predictable may be delightful, but it isn't funny. Which falls in line with my thesis - the funniest books - or the funniest books you remember are the ones where laughter is not constant. Where in fact -- like ADOLF HITLER, HIS PART IN MY DOWNFALL the story is quite riddled with tragedy. If you think about it, some of the great humor writers - Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Sharpe - have elements of pathos and in the latter cases some real drama too. Ie the books run an emotional gamut and continue to surprise by shifting between the various 'expectations'. It's a hard trick to master. It was the failure to recognise this as a necessity that led - at least in part - to the 'humor collapse' of the late 80's - when from every publisher having jumped on the bandwagon and bought a bunch of 'humor' which in general was yawn-worthy (one man's inappropriate is another's boredom?) has meant that humor - which outsells everything else 6 ways to breakfast, lunch and supper WHEN it sells - has dropped off the aquisition radar.
It'll stage a comeback eventually, and we just hope that value of pathos in humor is appreciated this time around.
So who is funny? And why do you find them funny.