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Sunday, February 9, 2014

My attempt at explaining the funnies

Today I was thinking about my favorite ways to produce humorous sayings and writings, and I think it boils down mostly to saying the unexpected, and quite often, precisely the opposite of the expected (there is a difference - think about it). But to go into a bit more detail:

The unexpected is funny: for example, slip in unexpected things into long lists of otherwise mundane things; you know - school, everyday events, the weather, examples of a certain class of things, stomach ulcers - you get the idea.

Downplay the horribleness of things: sometimes, it's funnier to say "not so good" instead of "terrible", especially when it really is terrible. In fact, just use the opposite of what people would expect you to use. Allow me to demonstrate: "Do not forget to turn off the stove before leaving the kitchen, or you might end up burning down your house, which would be les than ideal"

Use simple words for complex things and complex words for simple things. Same thing applies for sentences. This is a simple idea, so by using such simple words I'm actually not following my own rule. But that's irony, and that's a whole different kind of funny. Or maybe I'm not trying to be funny in this paragraph. I don't know. You decide.

Genuinely unfunny things can be made to be funny by announcing their unfuniness prior to mentioning the said unfunny thing. Likewise, funny things can be made even funnier by preceding them with a disclaimer about how funny it is. The choice of whether to downplay the funniness or to hype it up is tricky and is best left to experts like myself.

Pretend to be an expert at things you're not. Also, pretend to be really dumb at things you're good at. I don't do that, because then I'd have to pretend to be dumb at everything.

Adopt a really serious tone and pepper your sentences with lots of choice and seemingly thoughtfully picked out words such as "adopt",  "pepper", and "choice" (used as an adjective), and use "grown-up" formulations like "such as", but intersperse a few childish words like "really", "lots" and "like". If somehow you manage to string together a sentence with all three of those childish words, you'll get a lot of laughs. Like, really lots. Really. Are you laughing yet? I thought so. Also, I couldn't figure out which words to put in bold for this paragraph, so I'll just do it on these two. 

Be charming and annoying at the same time. I don't even know how to explain this one. It's really really tricky. Like, in this particular text you're currently reading, I might be a bit more annoying than usual, but then, annoyance is subjective, so it's not very easy to say. But if I balance out the number of annoying sentences and charming ones, I can keep you reading long enough.

In the previous paragraph, for example, the first sentence is neutral. The second one is charming, because it's an admission of ignorance. The third one is childish, so it can either be annoying or charming depending on the reader. This is where it gets tricky. So far we've got neutral, charming and 50-50, so there's a 50% chance that the reader is charmed and a 50% chance the reader was initially charmed but then cheesed off, leaving him effectively neutral. So up to the third sentence, the previous paragraph is safe. You're still reading, so I guess I'm right. Oh gosh, this is getting too complicated to explain. I hope you kinda understand what I'm trying to say. To be fair, I did warn you  earlier that I don't really know how to explain this one.

Whoa, I just turned something that was meant to be a lighthearted tongue in cheek article into pseudo-intellectual almost-meta heavy-read of an article. Maybe that's the joke? (It actually is intellectual and meta. That's the joke!)

I am very tempted to go on writing this article in this fashion, but I am sensing that if I do, I might severely disrupt the charm and annoyance balance, so I'll just stop now while I'm winning.


Anthea said...

You are a genius.

Hakim Luqman said...

Thank you very much Anthea :)

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