CONTRARIAN TROPES 15
by Bob Carroll
One could argue that humor is a matter of language and words, although that theory might not account for cartoons without captions or dialogues, or comedy in silent film. Conversely, what is “unspoken” could be “understood” to be a verbal matter.
At any rate, the verbal in humor is a vast territory, as in: (1) Riddles: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic? Someone who lies awake all night long wondering if there really is a Dog. Or (2) Ambiguities, as in these actual headlines: MINERS REFUSE TO WORK AFTER DEATH. And, STUD TIRES OUT. And, KIDS MAKE NUTRIOUS SNACKS. Or (3) Anecdotes, as when author Isaac Asimov discusses the powers of Jewish mothers (btw, Asimov, who was Jewish, said a non-Jewish Russian acquaintance told him that all mothers are Jewish): “Once when I was a teenager,” Asimov wrote, “I was walking with my mother on a winter day. It was quite cold but low temperatures don't bother me much, and as is my custom, I left my overcoat unbuttoned. My mother, obviously uncomfortable, finally said sharply, “Button your coat, Isaac; I'm freezing.” Asimov liked to ask: “The favorite nine-letter word of a Jewish grandmother to grandchild? Eateateat!”
Many authors love (4) Humorous One-liners, and Irish dramatist Oscar Wilde was a master of them: “Everything popular is wrong.” Or: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” And one of my personal favorites: “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”
Kalivac Communications 2012