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Painful Hobby

My children keep telling me that I should be a professional comedian. I hope they are not basing that on my looks.

My knee-jerk reply is, “No way! It’s too dangerous! It’s violent!” They, like always, don’t take me seriously and think I’m being funny. If I ever started choking on some food, they would probably laugh and comment on how my face was turning a neat shade of blue.

Have you ever had stage-fright? Your stomach tightens, your throat goes dry, your eyes see wavering spots, your knees go weak; and that is just thinking about it. Some people faint on stage. Before you go in front of a crowd, people wish you well by saying, “break a leg.” People must be masochistic, or sadistic, or at least some kind of “ick”.

Humor is war! A poor actor or a poor performance is said to have “died on stage.” On the other hand, a good comedian who thrills the audience is said to have “really stuck it to them” or “knocked them dead.” An audience which laughs a lot is said to have “split a rib” or “died laughing.” There are many references to getting hurt. “That was a real knee-slapper.” “I thought I was going to laugh until I cried.” “That speaker really cracked me up.” “I thought I would die.” “I almost laughed my head off.” “They rolled in the aisles.” You don’t tell a joke; you crack a joke. You don’t try something new, you break in a new bit.

A loud heckler who successfully disrupts a comedian is said to have “buried him.” An actor who forgets a line and needs help or has to start over, “lost it.” That sounds a little too mental for me.

Laughing has so many synonyms: giggle, snicker, guffaw, cackle, sneer, break up, chuckle, chortle, snort ... (We all know someone who snorts.) There are different types of humor: mirth, snide, straight-faced, sarcastic, dry, gag, jest, pun, quip, witty, mockery, prank, clown around, tease, mock, banter, josh, to kid, to rag or razz. Why is the person being joked about called the “butt” or the “brunt” of a joke? Why is the “victim” of a joke said to have been “set up”? Why is “just joking” used as defense to something that was originally an offense? When you smile for too long, your face actually does hurt. A common piece of advice is “grin and bear it.” Most people in a rare bad mood, when told to smile, will tell the well-wisher what to do with that suggestion.

Prat-falls are based on possible pain or embarrassment. People enjoy watching someone else slip on a banana peal or get a pie in the face. I feel sorry for Wile E. Coyote. Slap-stick humor sounds like you have a weapon. During a serious presentation, any light-heartedness is said to be the “comic relief.” Pain is a relief? If laughter is the best medicine, perhaps the ailment isn’t so bad. They say that a spontaneous joke is the best kind, yet professional comedians hammer out routines. It sounds like a premeditated attack.

They say that puns are the lowest form of humor ... and that probably explains me.