I’ve been thinking of funny things lately. Literally. You see, while many of us are waiting for vaccines or any sign of hope, it’s natural to try to cheer oneself up. I try reading books with the reputation of being funny. I try looking for movies that IMDb tells me will make me laugh. One thing I’ve discovered is that what’s truly funny is a matter of taste. Some comedians make me laugh. Others, well, don’t. Books that I’m told are LOL (“laugh out loud”) funny often turn out to give me a snicker or two as I wend my way through the pages. The “out loud” part remains elusive. But it’s the movies that get to me most. I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that made me laugh from beginning to end. “Sophomoric” is the word my wife used to describe most of the movies on online comedy recommendation lists.
I suppose funny is a matter of buying into lowest common denominator culture. Education, if we’re honest, can knock the sense of humor out of you. Besides, most movies have a story to tell and few stories are funny every step along the way. During a pandemic you might well need something like that. Of course you couldn’t go to the theater to see it if it came out. There’s some fun stuff on the internet. People I know will sometimes send me things that make me chuckle, but I’m guessing I need to step away from horror movies for a while to reacquaint myself with what’s funny. I got so desperate the other day that I sat down and tried to make a list of the funniest movies I ever saw. Then I looked at the lists I found online and saw little overlap. Where to go for a good laugh?
Our sense of humor must have roots in our youth. I really got into religion then, and I became a very serious teen—we’re talking eternal consequences here. So much so that I had a conscious epiphany one day that I no longer laughed. I needed to rebuild my sense of humor. I tried buying funny books (which wasn’t easy in a town with no bookstores). I tried to catch up with the others in school who were always talking about this or that funny movie they’d seen. Of course, anything crude scandalized me then, so it had to be clean fun. Now it’s a matter of trying to see if anyone gets my sense of humor. After a year in lockdown we could all use a good laugh.