The other day, in a chilling episode worthy of any cutting-room floor, I walked into a drugstore and picked up a birthday card. You have probably gone down this path yourself. It starts out innocently enough: you stop by the card rack to stock up on li'l nuggets o' Hallmark insincerity for appalling relatives with names like Uncle Sue, and then you make THE FATAL MISTAKE. You pick up the card under the heading "HUMOR." This one had a cupcake on the front, and inside it said - quote - "It's Your Special Day."
Frankly, I'm uneasy. I had prided myself, up until then, on a healthy working understanding of greeting card humor. My first-ever Real Job was at a Hallmark store, where I was able, via the scientific technique of being really bored, to compartmentalize card humor into a few basic categories:
- Certain persons lead lives rich in pickup trucks and beer.
- Certain persons feature bosoms. (BONUS: There is a high chance these persons also feature buttocks.)
- Hillary Clinton wishing you a happy birthday is funny.
- Dogs pee on things.
So after encountering the cupcake card, I stood there, very still except for my eyeballs, which bulged progressively out of my skull while days and nights progressed behind me in comical cinematic fashion. Later, my sister would childishly suggest that perhaps somebody just put the card back in the wrong place. You cannot reason with persons like this. No, my friends, we are witnessing THE DEATH OF HUMOR. We sit idly by as, before our very eyes, it goes the way of audiocassette players, so that one day soon, we will try to tell a joke, and find that it features no orifice into which we can insert our "Soft '70s" tape. I don't want my future children growing up in a world like this.
Further support for this: a classmate of mine once enlightened me to the blood-curdling fact that our school features a course in - get ready - comedy analysis. Really. As in GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW HAKK sorry, that was just the sound of me sobbing out my trachea. No, seriously, as a proud student at wherever-it-is-I-go, I stand firmly behind my institution, which is why, as a token of my gratitude to the school for admitting me and unfailingly billing me since, I will consider their mode of comedy education today.
So what say we throw it over to the insightful dudes and dudettes in Dr. Professor Warwick H. Eggbound's First-Year Seminar in Comedy Proctology ("Looking Up Comedy's Ass Through The Rectoscope of Humanity"):
DR. EGGBOUND: What do you think the author means by "we will tell a joke, and find that it features no orifice into which we can insert our 'Soft '70s' tape?" Explain.
(Dead silence; sounds of sleep, surreptitious autoeroticism, etc.)
DR. EGGBOUND: Jason? Your analysis? (Mouthing along with student.) It's ... funny ... because ... a ... joke ... can't ... feature ... an ... orifice. That's correct. The use of absurdity renders the observation humorous. Academic laugh!
EVERYONE (academically): Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.
DR. EGGBOUND: Ahhh. I needed that. Now it is vital, too, that we pay attention to the author's use of the transative defamatory conjunction, "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW." What, precisely, do we find funny about "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW?" Stewart?
STEWART (a "special student" who still wets the bed): Well, if memory serves, the O.E.D. in fact classifies "GAWHAWWWWWWHAWW" as a laxative depilatory confection that should really only have four W's in a row instead of six. Thus is it rendered "humorous."
DR. EGGBOUND: Now laugh.
EVERYONE: Ha Ha Ha Ha.
(Dr. Eggbound smokes a cigarette)
Speaking as a wide-eyed garbage-disposal style newbie in the academic sphere, I firmly believe that there is actually nothing in the world that cannot benefit from Dr. Eggbound's particular brand of analysis. In fact, such luminaries as he render me totally unnecessary. So I highly encourage all of you, especially you young persons as are yet benighted enough to think comedy is "funny," to take his course. And have a ball. It's Your Special Day.
P.S. Also, Hillary says happy birthday.
P.P.S. Now laugh.
©2009, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending