For the first time since college, I'm signed up for an in-person writing class, as opposed to the on-line writing classes I've been taking consistently for the last couple of years. It's a humor writing class. I thought it would be fun, and it is, except for last week when the homework assignment was to write 250 words on what we thought was funny.
I wrote a few lines on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, specifically Ron White. Anything his dog Sluggo does is funny. And you can't fix stupid. I'm grinning even now. Then I got even more elaborate describing my love for Janet Evanovich and how she always always always makes me laugh. Like, in the new book where Stephanie and Lula try to bring in a skip and he opens the door naked and he's hung like an ox and Lula ends up shooting him in the toe and then they have to go to Cluck 'n a Bucket to recover? Now that's funny. I guess you'd say that I'm pretty basic.
Then the teacher gave us the diagram showing the levels of comedy. Hmm. It seems the stuff I think is funny falls squarely in the most juvenile levels. Nice. Here I thought I was such a grown-up and all. Things like incongruity and subtle exaggeration and irony don't really do it for me. I mean, I can see the joke, but it doesn't really make me laugh. Satire - in the hands of an expert like Steven Colbert - does, which gives me hope that I'm not a complete lost cause. On the other hand, the funniest thing I saw that whole class was the description of the highest level of humor:
Incongruity and contrast/comparison are the highest level of humor as they require a discriminating mind. People who read extensively or attend college often have the right mental training to appreciate this level.
Seriously? I've been to college, in fact more than most, and I would never ever ever say that I had a discriminating mind. With a straight face, anyway. That description sounds like something written by someone who has too much time on their hands. Anyway, the homework assignment for this week is to come up with two stinkie pinkies, a homonym and a shaggy dog. Wish me luck.