When asked advice on how he would do the old slip on a banana peel gag, Chaplin was once quoted as saying “Instead of slipping on a banana peel, have a large woman walk up, see the banana peel and step over it, and drop into an uncovered man hole she didn’t see ahead of her because she was so busy being smug while looking back at the banana peel she just smartly stepped over. Courtesy JeTamme Derouet (Charlie Chaplin historian, paid expert and top contributor) http://www.charliechaplinclub.com.
I like to think that I have a pretty good sense of humor, but many of today’s comedians don’t make me laugh. I’ve watched Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and others, wanting to be amused; begging to be amused; hoping to be amused, but being disappointed. Have I gotten that old?
The other day I heard a comment on NPR that pointed out how today’s humor is more slapstick, while the humor of the mid to late 20th century was more intelligent and thought provoking – not that everything today is slapstick, or that everything from back then was intelligent (after all, that same time period included the “Gong Show.”) The speaker pointed out how the older material used humor to convey a message. I believe there’s some truth to that.
Look at how Richie Pryor used humor to make a huge statement about the idiocy of racism. Supposedly, he wrote the script for “Blazing Saddles.”) Bill Cosby’s view of life in his stand-up comedy was outstanding, and his characters converted to cartoons with a message.
“Firesign Theatre” parodied just about everything, while salting the material with obscure references to computer technology, radiology, physics, and especially classical literature. These types of comedy got funnier over time because you caught more of the hidden jokes. (“Will you look at the mouth on that gift horse? I’ve never seen anything like that!”)
There’s hope, though. I like the tee shirt emblazoned with, “There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don’t.”
And of course, “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).”
And, yes, just as Shakespeare (the original) was corny, intelligent humor can be corny as well.
A neutron walked into the Atomic Bar and asked the bartender, a proton, for a drink, which the bartender poured and served.
“How much do I owe you?” asked the neutron.
“For you, no charge,” replied the bartender.
[And if that isn’t bad enough…]
“Are you sure?” asked the neutron?
“I’m positive!” replied the proton.