Laughter Is Far More Than Mere Medicine

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J.T. Hilltop

It’s a running joke. No, I’m not talking about the potential candidates running for president constantly flaunting of their assholiness, what I mean is laughter being the best medicine. Although I must admit some of the ranting of those running for president are far more ridiculous than any slapstick routines I’ve seen. The bottom-line is more than just a venue in Greenwich Village with popular acts, the bottom line is that the most creative, concise, profound, and just plain sensible information about life, love, and politics have come by way of brilliant comedians.

 

It started with Lenny Bruce, although admittedly I’m too young to have seen his act live I certainly have learned much about censorship and abuse of power from Lenny. But the first comedian who really made sense as well as developing my sense of humor was a big fan and learned much of his craft from Mr. Bruce. George Carlin. From the Hippy Dippy weatherman to the brightest funnyman who ever shed light on social and political issues in a way in which we could all understand. George Carlin not only made me laugh, yes out loud long before lol was a thing, but he also helped put so much more into perspective in a way which I personally could relate to. George helped me to understand my nagging sense of spiritual emptiness as well as my frustration with authority figures, ie Washington DC. Through his brilliant use of comedic perspective George Carlin shed an enlightening perspective and helped me to sort out my life issues with a hint of sarcasm and a ton of laughter. Thank you for the medicine George, much of what you said still rings true in so many hearts.

 

When George passed away a deep chasm of a void needed filling. His humor was so sustainable because unlike many jokers who tell the same jokes in different ways (sort of like reporters asking a set of questions that sound eerily similar to the first one they asked) his humor had evolved. But the void remained, thankfully to be filled in from an alien from outer space, Mork from Ork. Robin Williams was the next comedian to enter my little world with a handful of laughter medicine. Different from George but equally as talented and funny. Robin taught me that living my life in an improv format was okay as long as I kept my perspectives. The main difference for me was that Robin was equally adept at playing dramatic roles, but none the less his humor not only comforted me but it also helped to validate the social and political issues I had developed from following Mr. Carlin. The recent tragedy of losing Robin hit hard on a number of levels not the least of which was his ability to rise above his inner demons for as long as he did through the use of laughter.

 

With Robin gone another huge void had been created. The next laugh man I latched onto for medicinal joking was Jon Stewart. Jon had transcended social issues to a completely new level, delving ever deeper into politics and the disgusting hypocrisy and corruption while brining it to light in a serious way via his brilliant comedic outlook on life. As a note of accomplisment Jon Stewart was incredibly significant in the passing of the 911 first responders bill to make sure they have medical coverage. It absolutely astounds me that a single person on Capitol Hill needed to be shamed into voting for the heroes that answered the call on the darkest days our country has see3n in modern history but then again, congress are humorless jokes. Jon went up and down the corridors of the building with some responders having to shame them into agreeing to even put the bill to a vote which only strengthens my position that comedians should have more influence on social and political issues. I compare Jon to Johnny Carson on two levels. One I remember my father, despite leaving early for work in the morning never missing The Tonight Show and laughing so loud it often woke me up. I would later learn that Johnny Carson was dishing out the daily social news stories with his own brand of humor. But more than that, Jon Stewart like John Carson before him kick started the careers of many a comedian, the most notable in Jon’s case Steven Cobare, or more pretentiously, Cobert pronounced Cobare. Using incredible wit combined with profound wisdom, both of these jokers are able to place today’s issues in an understandable if not always humorous way.

 

There have been other laugh makers that helped shape the social and political landscapes, Monty Python, Prime Time Players, Second City among others. All have helped us to not only make sense of a complicated world, but to be able to laugh at the same time. It’s ridiculously hard to remain sad or angry while we’re laughing. That’s why I stand by the statement laughter is the best medicine. I will however admit, that some substances make the laughter even funnier, but these are humor additives not humor itself even if they sometimes make us laugh without understanding why we are laughing.

 

In conclusion, in a recent election in Brazil an actual clown, not clown in the sense of those running for president in the US, Tiririca, was elected to Brazilian Congress. Notably he too is a Republican but perhaps its not the same in Brazil as it is here. In summation, maybe it’s time we form an independent political party and load it up with doctors of comedy who can administer the medicine we all need these day, laughter….

PEACE

 

In Praise Of Punnery

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I just want to profess my love for one of humors most clever yet looked down of art forms. People say that puns are the lowest form of humor you could buy. That makes no cents. It seams (A hem) to me the higher a person is, the funnier the pun appears to be and the harder they laugh. You’ll get no boo’s if you give then booze. Or whatever else will raise the level of the pun to cause the funny bones to be so humerus. I for one am a huge oscillating air blower of punnery. It takes a clever use of word twisting, timing, and structure to create a successful pun play. There is an art to doing it correctly, if a pun is too loose it won’t fit in to your punch line and if it’s to tight you won’t be able to pull it off. (Ahem)

So next time you hear someone say that puns are the lowest form of humor, get them high. Then maybe they can take their hang ups out of the closet and give a few chuckles. Some good home groan will make them grown and shake their head for sure. In the meantime, keep punning and keep laughing, humor comes in all shapes and sizes and its all good…PEACE

 

Punny You Should Say That (An Owed To Joy)

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I heard someone say that puns are the slowest form of humor yet it takes a remarkably quick wit. Actually I think I may have heard slowest wrong but after being stalked by corny jokes for so long my ears hear colonel when its really kernel. I get it, they really said it’s the lowest form of humor but I’m still in limbo as to how low to set that bar. At any rate, puns are a play on words that can make a kid kid another kid or make a grown man groan so I want to pay my respect. I normally write in my boxers but I’ll try to keep this in brief.
When I was all of six years old I discovered the power of a pun. We had a gas station named Citgo and one day in the car, with Dad driving, Mom in the front, my little sister between them in babyseat and me squished in between my four older brothers and I made a bold statement. I said “Hmmm, Citgo, where you can sit and go.” Meaning getting gas I raised my arms to pantomime driving. Apparently my driving imitation looked more like someone moving their bowels and the family roared with laughter. That’s when I realized I could use English language to get noticed by pretending to have irritable vowel syndrome if I really pumped up the the puns I could keep them giggling consonantly. I had discovered the lowest form of humor and it lifted me up.
If puns are low its because they are the foundation of clever of humor. They’re black and white and read all over, they’re the reason the chicken crossed the road having its intentions come into question, It’s why it takes three pole dancers to erect a light bulb, and the basis of the omnipresent schoolyard knock knock jokes. All great comedians are pun practioners and are adept at sailing double entendres at triple warped mind speed leaving us land lubbers rolling in the Isles. Whether it’s a three act play on words, a homophone, which as it turns out is not a gay cellular device, or just a simple unmarried Miss direction puns take sharp and fast tongues to verbalize a stream of consciousness quick as a lick. Many punsters, myself included become almost obsessed, trying to twist everything they hear. Someone introduces me to Isabelle and I hear is a bell and feel combelled to chime in with a ringing endorsement about jingle jangling word association. A Pavlonian response that has me salivating at the a peal of making someone smile. If there is a low form of puns it cums from the perverse endless sexual innuendo punster. Those who chuckle and plan at the mention of such easy target words like woody, erect, hole, or the mention of Master Bates. It’s a favorite of that uncle who continues to play pull my finger well past its age appropriateness. For me sexual in your endo jokes are just too easy, like your mom was last night. But it will always have a place in punditry because like splinter religions, sects sells. A truly great pun takes an extraordinary amount of cleverness and thought using one ability to instantly see verbal connections where others see mere words and plugging the pun in before it sinks in. Great puns are like hand grenades because you pull the pin and wait for it to blow up. That’s why I pay homage. That and the fact that I still owe Homage a lot of money. I’m a self proclaimed lover of all things punny. Puns are a part of everyone’s daily life these days and no news story is complete without slinging some puntastic zingers.. Here’s a somewhat exaggerated example:
This just in from Know News is Good noose:
FRUIT LOOPY
A cereal killer is believed on the loose in General Mills campgrounds and campers experiencing in tents fear. Police canvassing their tented community in search of the frosted wheat whacker who is making the campers snap, crackle, and pop. They believe the perp is Cuckoo for Cocoa puffs so The Cap’n is putting the crunch on by running background Chex on all adults using hare brained tricks because every bunny knows that Trix are for kids….

But news stations really do use puns to make their point as in headlines such as “Chickens Cry Fowl” or “Locksmith Plays Key Roll In Bakery Break In.” Another area often engaging in punnery is just about every TV show and movie ever made. The best bantering between actors are scripted with artistic puns. It takes an artist to draw laughs from sketches. Without puns the artist draws a blank but looking around in a room packed with punsters the artist can draw a crowd. So much for a low form, it takes a highly evolved mind to come up with such clever comedy. Dimwitted humor pales in comparison. Slap stick falls flat, bathroom humor smells, and I suck at self deprecation. Sarcasm can be a little bitter, but not much better.

Today puns are significantly more evolved than the early days. I grew up with lines like “Take my wife. Please!” or “I just flew in from Baltimore and boy are my arms tired.” Today it takes much deeper thought because once jokes are use they become less funny. Ten years ago we had Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Eddie Money, and Steve Jobs, and today all we have this worn out and tired old joke format. Take my wife is now I married Miss right, but I didn’t know at the time her first name was always, and flying in from Baltimore gets morphed to I can’t leave because I was on the third floor of the airport with someone else’s stuff and came down with something. There are a lot of people in the airport so I hope its not terminal or the only thing flying out of here will be rumors. Anyway, IMHO, like rock and roll the puns colors are true so punnery will never dye.
Thanks for taking the time to read this pun praising piece. This thoroughly enjoyable (for me) excursion was inspired by a high school English teacher of mine whom I have had the fortune of reconnecting with on social media. Professor Jim Zeitler shares my profound love of the English Language and our abilities to twist, invert, dissect, misdirect, turn inside out or upside down the words that make up our language to make others smile, laugh, or most important, to think. Jim sent me a book by John Pollack called “The Pun Also Rises” which delves into the history of puns and its impressive how deep and rich the history of witty wordplay is and how long it has been an art form. I dedicate this post to him because while my high school daze are way behind me his dedication to instructing and constructing minds is still going strong and I assume he will forever teach many of us new things. He has once again taught me things dispelling the age old cliché “You can’t teach and old dog new tricks.” And trust me, this old hound dog learned things he can sink his canines in and I’m not peeling the bark off the wrong tree. Okay no more, I’ll stop, I’m bushed anyway! Thank you Jim Zeitler, your wit an wisdom continues to reach out and inspire minds both young and old. … PEACE