[hist-analytic] Explaining Making a Joke

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed Jan 27 20:34:23 EST 2010

Good thoughts.

Yes, jocular behaviour is very ... jocular.

I agree with you about

"make the addresse laugh", or "smile", if we are Brits. A tutor I once 
had disliked "laughing", and even "smiling". "Showing your teeth," he´d 
say, is an atavic primate behaviour. Chimps show their teeth when they 
are angry."

Oddly, Chapman notes that when transcribing some of the Grice tapes, 
she couldn´t get a clear message. The laughter in the audience was so 

--- I believe the best jokes are UNintentional. I don´t mean slapstick 
or Charlie Chaplin falling in the street as he slips over a banana.

I mean, even the most complicated, sophisticated music-hall monologue 
cannot TRUST the addressee will laugh, or smile. That´s why I suppose 
I´m no professional joker. But then _who_ is.

So we would need to distinguish between

SUCCEEDING making a joke

and other.

Succeeding making a joke can be part of your intention, of course. One 
of the most pathetic films I´ve seen in my life is set in Blackpool 
with Laurence Olivier. I studied the text in great detail. It´s 
Osborne, ¨The Entertainer¨. His jokes are SO pathetic, that of course, 
they move you to tears.

I was recently re-watching it, and the bit when Phoebe starts singing

   The man I love is up in the lavatory
     The man I love is looking down on me

is just pathetically funny. There´s a good ambiguity in "fun". Fun ha 
ha, fun queer.

Humour is one of the most subjective things in Western civilisation. 
And I´m using Western civilisation jocularly.

   REPORTER (to Gandhi): What do you think of Western civilisation?
   GANDHI: A good idea. I think it would be a good idea.



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