The anatomy of humour

The anatomy of humour

SINCE I LOVE to begin my day with a smile, I reach for the comic strips of the day in the newspaper even before I brew my morning tea.

The nuggets of humour, often laced with gentle wisdom, set the tone for my day. And sometimes, I even snip and put an exceptional one up on the face of my fridge for the benefit of guests.Humour to me is indispensible. I can giggle at PJs (including the horrendously silly elephant-ant tales) and guffaw at the seriously funny gags by stand up comedians on TV. I can laugh heartily at the innocent humour of Calvin and Hobbes and chuckle at the cheeky office wit in Dilbert.

The only thing that doesn’t easily tickle my funny bone is the laboured slapstick jokes and cheap puns in Indian movies.Yet for all the love I have for comedy, I am a dud when it comes to making someone laugh. Try as hard as I may, I cannot produce a piece of writing that can evoke an instant burst of laughter. Every time I have tried to share a joke that I had heard elsewhere, I have had my audience looking up in anticipation, waiting for the humour to spill and sweep them over, only to find the joke fizzle and plonk like a bird dropping in our midst.

It is almost like trying to hit a six and getting caught at mid- wicket. The charitable smiles on the faces in front of me makes me want the earth to cave in and consume me even as I am tempted to apologise for the cropper. But I let it be, happy in the thought that if not with my badly recast joke, I have at least given them a reason to laugh with my pathetic expression of humour. If you can’t crack a joke, be one yourself. People love to laugh at other men and women than at funny stories.

Two sets of people that I admire and envy greatly are talented humourists and slick marketers for possessing skills that I now believe are more DNA-related than degree earned. I can’t sell a hand-kerchief even to someone with a nasty cold, nor can I pull off a comic caper to amuse even a toddler. I am not exaggerating; smiley icons have been a great god-send in my effort to be humorous, at least in my personal correspondence. It is pitiable that I have to punch in a smiley face to hint at the humour intended in my words, but it is better to ride piggyback than to get grounded.

Humour, though, is quite a subjective area.  I have seen hardcore defiance bordering on contempt next to me, even when I hee-hawed uncontrollably and got the soda in my mouth out in a spray. Apparently, what amuses one man does not amuse the other. The fact is you can’t hard sell comedy. You can’t plug a comic gag on your listener or reader, or play goofy just because you have a job to complete. Yet, humour to a large extent is a universal feel-good tool. Whether it tongue-in-cheek, in-your-face or naively jocular, it can change the contours of a stressed world and put a smile on its face.  I wonder whether I’ll ever be able to learn the ropes and dish out a genuine course of comedy some day. But perhaps my my DNA is not suitably wired for such fare.

Being funny is no joke and I would rather not steer into the territory of men out there doing this serious business of mirth and madness.  I recognise that it takes more than a red foam nose and cartwheels to be a clown who can unleash a laugh riot. It is an art that not any pedestrian can pick up from the sidewalk and peddle at will. – Khaleejnews