The Day is Done

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hyperbole Will Make you Laugh Until you Puke out a Lung...LOL!

Back when my brother Chris and I were cute little towheads...

...our mother introduced us to the concept of knock-knock jokes. Chris and I were enthralled with our mother's wit, timing, and overall delivery. As two ambitious and forward-thinking youngsters, my brother and I decided that to attain the social advancement and popularity that we so desperately craved, it would be advisable for us to employ knock-knock jokes. When things were getting too quiet, when the crowd was getting too dull, Chris and I displayed our newly acquired talent for humor.

Chris: Hey, Mom. Knock-knock.
Mom: Sigh. Who's there?
Chris: Banana.
Mom: Banana who?
Chris: Banana face!!!
Mom (aside): What have I created?

As you might expect but to our surprise, one day my mom put an end to all the knocking. I wanted to tell her a knock-knock joke, but she just glared at me and said, "Stop telling knock-knock jokes. They're not funny!" My brother and I were crushed. How could the foolproof formula of knock-knock jokes not induce laughter every time, especially given the fact that we were such cute kids?

Our young minds couldn't fathom what I can fathom now—namely, that certain comical techniques can be overused. Over the last few months, I've realized that this phenomenon is at work to epidemic proportions. Just watch an episode of Friends (if you can stomach it). The plots are not terribly clever and the lines are not terribly witty. It is nowhere near the caliber of Arrested Development, for instance. In large part, the show is "funny" because Joey's eyes get so huge when he realizes what he just drank or because Chandler convulses when he's grossed out by something. The actions and reactions of the characters are so over-the-top that people laugh.

This epidemic is also evident closer to home. Just read a humorous post on someone's blog. Notice the unrealistic descriptions, the extensive use of the caps lock key, and the frequent superlatives. Also, notice that these comical techniques are being applied to situations that, in and of themselves, aren't that funny.

Hyperbole has its place, but it's being overdone. It's time to use some of the other tools in the toolbox, if you know what I mean. Allow me to illustrate...

Irony: Hyperbole is used so much that it makes me want to eat my own cell phone! In one bite! [This is funny because I'm being hyperbolic about hyperbole. Get it? It's funny.]

Surprise: I was walking down the stre—BOO! [This is funny because you, the reader, are surprised by the abrupt appearance of "BOO" in the sentence. Admit it. You laughed.]

Physical comedy: I am typing this sentence with my toes. [This is funny because you are now picturing me sitting at my desk typing with my toes. Even I'm laughing at this one.]

The list goes on and on. I'd catalog more comedic techniques if I had the time, but I've got to call my mom and tell her this hilarious knock-knock joke.



    By Anonymous Andrew, at 2:42 PM  

  • i actually laughed when i read the one about typing with your toes. you should actually try it sometime and see how it turns out. i'm curious, but my toes are'nt the right caliber for such an endeavor. that's why i'm passing it off on you.

    By Blogger schaffner, at 10:56 AM  

  • Greetings dear friend! How is your last semester as an undergrad going? I can't believe I graduate soon. Crazy.
    I miss you friend.

    By Blogger littlemaria42, at 12:32 AM  

  • Those are so stupid!!! I was like "How old is this guy? 5!" I was funnier than that when I was. Wow are you stupid

    By Blogger laney, at 2:36 PM  

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