by Audrey Sillett Lintner
Sometimes I'm amazed at what passes for comedy these days. Don't get me wrong; I've seen some genuinely funny bits come across the airwaves. Unfortunately, it seems like some of the stuff that's considered funny on television would be chalked up as abuse in a real-life situation.
Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. But think about it. Isn't it funny as long as it's the other guy?
Throughout history, outrageous slapstick comedy has been popular (Punch and Judy anyone?) with audiences. Although technology became more sophisticated, viewers still craved the outlet of a good knockabout and rousing, if rude, dialogue. The goofy antics of The Marx Brothers or The Three Stooges avoided offense by keeping the outlandish premises of vaudeville and puppet shows.
Is this the key? Is it humor as long as it's unrealistic?
With the advent of television, the comedy stakes were raised again. How many times did Ralph Kramden of the classic sitcom The Honeymooners threaten Alice with a trip to the moon? How many spouses today would stand still for one of Ralph's eye-popping temper tantrums? How many times was Ralph made to see the error of his ways and words before delivering his heartfelt apology, "Baby, you're the greatest"?
Maybe that's it. Knowing when you're wrong makes it funny.
With our current immersion culture, with the media poking its nose into every aspect of our lives, are we becoming desensitized to unkind behavior? Sitcom children smart off to their parents. Couples make derogatory comments to and about their partners. Celebrity roasts encourage outright cruelty to a central figure who is supposed to smile and say nothing.
I give up. I have no idea why that's funny.
Can you make it funny? Try this: choose a sitcom scenario. Rewrite the snide comebacks, using a gentler form of humor. Get your family involved to see which member can come up with the best lines.
Question: It's funny on TV, but would you allow it in your real life?