Ask Mr. Motzko: On Being Funny

Dear Mr. Motzko,
Yesterday I fell down a flight of stairs after being chased by pack of ravenous alley cats. Needless to say, it hurt a lot, but it wasn’t the most pain I’ve ever been in. Whenever people tell me The Flipside isn’t funny, it causes me more pain than any predatory house cat ever could. So my question to you is what is funny?
Hospitalized Flipside Writer

In these trying economic times and the hovering threat of angry bees, I find myself screaming at the sky the very same question issued by Robert Plant during a version of Stairway to Heaven that could only be described in length, pace and heaviness as glacial: “Does Anybody Remember Laughter?”
Indeed, it seems that there has been some serious downsizing at the chuckle factory. When one is in dire need of their sides being split (or knees slapped), one could embark upon the Heart-of-Darkness excursion into absurdity and madness that is The Daily Giggle. Or one could ask for a punch in the chops. While Miss Manners would take issue with my scolding of this revered humor goldmine for the paste-eating crowd, Miss Manners frankly needs to lighten up. Either that, or plan to spend the rest of her days alone in that big Victorian mansion, lecturing her cats on the finer points of tea service.
Granted, it is difficult to find (or remember) a good clean joke that does not offend any ethnicity, species or hat size. Generally, when one needs to bust up a group, be it the Friar’s Club or a carefully arranged menagerie of stuffed animals, remember the equation you learned in Freshman Physics: Comedy=Tragedy+Time. Nothing leads to spontaneously soiled pants like a zinger about the Mt. Tambora eruption of 1816.
For you visual learners, might I suggest TV Azteca’s humor repository, Ay Caramba! For those of you not glued to the unidirectional sludge pump between 1997 and 2006, this was America’s Funniest Videos if “funny” required somebody trying to ride a motorcycle across a bridge of vines suspended between a flaming oil drum and a crate of greased pigs. Like the ice cream truck says, good humor.
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October 24, 2009

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