Search Terms Make Me Laugh

This is basically the first blog I’ve ever had.  I know I am late to the party, but it was something that I wanted to try and I if I’m in the mood it can be a lot of fun.  One thing I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how addictive it is watching your blogs stats.  Worpress (this blog is a wordpress blog, everyone) has some cool analytics software built in to the back end so you can see how many people came to your site, where they came from, what they clicked on, etc.  Most of my traffic comes directly from Facebook when I post links there, but there are a handful of views each day come from somebody doing a simple google search. Of all the data WordPress gives you, my favorite by far is knowing what search terms somehow landed people here.

I’d like to share some with you.

So this seems like a pretty standard day.  “Sex for Singing” is a little odd, but it makes sense that they would end up here, it has 2 of the 3 title words.  I mostly wonder why it has 4 independent views? did 4 different people google this? if it was just one person, why did they click on my blog 4 times?  You’d think after the first time they would figure out that I’m (probably) not going to hook-up with them no matter how well they sing.

This one is pretty standard. What I realized when I began looking through these is that there are people on the internet that just google Taylor Lautner all day long.  At least this day I also came up in a search including NYC.

Oh Goodness.  I know that “sex” is in the title of the page, but “Hot rough sex” you have come to the wrong place, sorry.
can anyone make sense of “football players downs their short pants”?  at least my friends Jerzy Jung and Christiano Ronaldo made it.

The weird things here are A) the search for “Taylor Laughter” – that made me crack-up.  and B) that I have never in my life blogged about Alan Valdez.  I didn’t even know that was.  just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything I googled him myself. … yowza.  I should do a blog or four about this guy:

Mike Fink…. Yes I wrote about my secret crush on a tall tale. I wonder why was he all the rage suddenly on November 2? Meanwhile, Lautner stays in the race.

Seriously, who googles this?  And it was even on 10-10-10.  You should have been out celebrating dude, that only happens once every millenium.  Even the Taylor Lautner people too the day off.

And lastly, today, which seems pretty average up until this one desperate persons cry help (?) at the bottom there.  Luckily I have also blogged about It Gets Better.  Watch a few and know that people out there care.

Anyway.  In general I’m disappointed in what drives people to this blog.  I guess I’m not posting enough intellectual material?  if you’ve got a topic suggestion (about comedy, music, sex or seriously whatever) leave me note and I’ll see if we can make this place more than a stop over for horny Twilight fans.  AND, Thanks very much for being part of my first blog journey, be sure to subscribe if that’s something you do.  Peace out. 🙂

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Getting Philosophical

Yesterday I had fuzzy memories of a poem I wrote in middle school. It was an English class assignment (of course) in which we had to show emotion in a poem.  What I ended up writing was a poem about animals being jealous of Human beings laughing because animals cannot laugh.  Now I know that hyenas laugh… we’ve all heard that, but I actually dug into this and started wondering: do any other living creatures have a sense of humor and experience comedy?

I’m beginning to think that Comedy might actually be a large division between the animal kingdom and humanity.  I can find evidence of artistry, song, play, language and community in animal lives.  Some of these may not be natural examples (since I’m sure elephants only paint on canvas when given the materials), but all the same they seem to be teachable.   Can any animal understand comedy?

Then I realized that comedy itself is kind of odd. Why do we laugh at things that: rhyme, are uncomfortable, have two meanings,  are taboo , don’t make sense, or even make sense but we never thought of it before.

The more I thought about this the more I can wrapped up in how complex and mystical we are… and how big and mystical the universe is and how we think we know everything but really don’t understand anything at all. After a while that got uncomfortable so I watched some videos on youtube to reset.

But I was still curious, so decided to go where all the answers are.

I opened Google and typed “Why do we la” into the search box.  The search engine read my mind and filled in the u-g-h at the end for me.  Clearly someone else has googled this before.

Yahoo Answers was a big help…

Yahoo Answers tries to answer "why we laugh"

Once I moved past Yahoo, I hit Howstuffworks.com which does have an article explaining theories on laughter.

­I learned that: “Philosopher John Morreall believes that the first human laughter may have begun as a g­esture of shared relief at the passing of danger.” And that “Many researchers believe that the purpose of laughter is related to making and strengthening human connections” because laughter leads to human bonding. These theories are supported by the impressive statistic is that you are 30 times more likely to laugh in the presence of another person than when you are alone.

How Stuff Works discusses 3 additional theories for why things are funny: incongruity theory (we laugh because the outcome was unexpected), Superiority Theory (we laugh because we feel better than other people), and Relief Theory (we laugh to relieve stress).

The thing is … none of these has competely explained to me why I laugh when I see Tina Fey dancing. So in the end, yahoo Answers may have gotten it right.

Comedy Tactic: The Bait and Switch

Since I have started watching more comedy- and even writing some myself- my systemic brain has been coming up with categories for jokes and filing them away. I think that the only category of  joke that already has a set name is the  Pun, defined as: the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound (thanks, http://www.merriam-webster.com).

But there are all these other jokes that just float about being jokes without any rules or accountability.

One reoccurring type of joke I’ve noticed is one where the listener assumes an impending punchline which the joke teller doesn’t deliver. The assumed line can either be conspicuously avoided or simply ignored and replaced by a totally random statement.  I’ve begun calling these Bait-and-Switch jokes (silently in my head to myself).

Television writer Jane Espenson discusses these humor tactic in her blog:

“It’s not often that a joke becomes an instant classic. But let us now discuss the joke from Glee that goes like this:

SUE
I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat; and then on some dark cold night, I will steal away into your home, and punch you in the face.

The beauty of the joke is that this one WANTS you to get ahead of it, and then subverts your expectation.”

The boy and I recently encountered our own version of the Bait and Switch when some playful taunting resulted in the line: “I just walked in on your mom shaving, and man is she fat.” This line may be uncouth, but it wins you the argument.

I’m realizing that there is another type of joke which is very similar. It’s like the bait and switch but the set-up is more cunning- you don’t even know that a joke is about to happen(!). In this version, “misdirecting”, the set-up line sounds completely appropriate for one element of the scene.  Then, a follow up line adjusts the subject of the first line. Hilarity ensues. Example (I can’t remember where I read this….):

[Two friends are eating at the dinner table after one of their girlfriends has angrily broken up with one of them and walked out. The man is flustered and embarrassed.]

Friend A: This stinks.

Friend B: Just hold your nose while you chew.

Is there a mom-joke version of this? you bet! Again an example a taunt session with the boy: We are standing in a burrito place watching a telenovela on a suspended television. On screen an aggressive man is passionately beating a dramatically, screaming Latin woman…

Me: Oh look, it’s your mom in that telenovela she used to do when she was younger.

The Boy: (trying to win the joke by going along with it…) Yep, she just loved doing telenovelas.

Me: Is she still friends with that actress? (FTW)

Thank you. thank you.

Victor Borge is TWO of my Heroes

After having The Assasssination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford for over 5 months The boy and I realized that we are the reason Netflix is profitable.  Since this wake-up call we have actually been pretty good about keeping the films moving and attempting to get our money’s worth.

At this point in our relationship (with each other and with Netflix) everyone is so new that we end up watching things that one of us has already seen- fallout from conversations like “OMG you’ve never seen XYZ? Put it on the list. the top. The TOP!”

The most recent gem from my past that I was able to share with him is a live recording of Pianist-Comedian Victor Borge  (his humble fansite here, and wikipedia here).   I love this dude.  I have very fond memories at my grandma’s house watching him on video and TV.  Yeah… he’s totally someone your grandma likes, but when grandmas like something that you like it means the comedian is doing something right.  I’m not a fan of humor that is crude, meanspirited, or just existing by means of shock value.  Dane Cook? No thanks.

Victor treats language playfully. His two most famous routines are Phonetic Punctuation – in which punctuation that would exist written are inserted to speech verbally as a cascade of clicks and whistles-  and, my favorite, Inflationary Language.

In this routine he inflates the hidden numbers in speech, SO…  “wonderful” becomes “twoderful”, “forehead” becomes “fivehead”, clocks strike “thirteen”, “I ate a tenderloin with my fork” becomes “‘I nined an elevenderloin with my five’k. And so on and so fifth”

But what consistently wins me over is his undeniable skill on the piano. In the following clip he and a friend share the play the every challenging Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2.  This is four-hand piano at it’s best.  Simultaneously playful and and amazing.

La Cage vs. MJ vs. Gaga

Eventually I was going to have to mention that I work at Samuel French. SF is a play publisher and licensing house.  This means that theaters, churches or schools apply to us for performance rights for any of the titles in our catalogue.  Recently we were astonished when a public school in New York City (less than a mile from Broadway) was approved to perform La Cage Aux Folles.

We were suprised not only someone so near would be approved, not only that a school with kids aged 7-12 was doing La Cage,  But also …because it was school for children with special needs.  All of my office mates wanted to go, but I was really torn from the beginning. I wanted to absolutely make sure that we weren’t attending in a mean spirited way.  I went.

Before the curtain the director made a very impassioned speech at the beginning explaining to the roomful of parents WHY she had chosen to do La Cage aux Folles with Middle-School kids. She spoke out against gay slurs and general intolerance of difference. After a short scene inwhich young kids simulated calling each other fags on the playground the director resumed her talk, and explained that her greatest gift to these children would be to teach them that EVERYONE operates differently, but that doesn’t mean that ANYONE is less.

I was really moved by how she pulled everything together and later on I was really effected by the 12 year old boy from a special needs school singing I am what I am…but I did laugh. a lot.  Not at the kids, but at the show itself.  This school and changed, rearranged, added and cut and insane amount of material.  To give you a slight idea…here is the songlist from the evening:

We Are Family*
Speechless**
The Way you Make Me Feel**
With You on my Arm***
Human Nature**
I Am What I am***

Intermission

Bad**
Look Over There***
ABC****
Best of Times is Now***
Papparazzi*****
We Are Family (Reprise)*
I Am What I Am (Reprise)***
Human Nature (Reprise)**

KEY for Song credit:
*Pointer Sisters
**Michael Jackson
***Jerry Herman (the creator of La Cage Aux Folles)
****The Jackson 5
*****Lady Gaga

This show was hysterical. Aside from the fact that the whole show ended with the a reprise of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, I most enjoyed “ABC” which was actually sung outside the story arc of La Cage by a student who was was discontent with the casting of “spring play twenty-ten” and wanted a solo although cast in the ensemble.  this was all explained in the preceding monologue.  How Meta!

Maria Bamford @ Comix

This past Thursday night I went with my friend Erin and The Boy to watch Comedian Maria Bamford at Comix Comedy Club in Chelsea. She was certainly Funny.

For a long time I have claimed that I do not really like stand-up comedy.  I’ve repeatedly told people that I would much prefer a funny character than a person standing up there making jokes. The style of comedy that Maria Bamford employed at Comix seemed to have my preference in mind.  This woman is nothing but a barrel of characters. Not only her family members (as we have seen Margaret Cho do) or impersonations of celebs, but countless, humorous characters from Mexican Americans to oblivious white couples.

My friend Erin ( an enormous fan) explained that  her thing is “a thousand voices.”

The one aspect of Maria’s comedy that was slightly off-putting to me is that she basic character was Extreme.  I would say more extreme than many of her other characters.  she held the mic very close and would sniff audibly between her soft spoken words.  Her physicality was odd, and her face hovered between fearful and dazed.  I was surprised- and curious to know if she was putting those traits on as well.

Erin explained that that’s “just how she is” and said she’d seen her interview.  The Boy said she seemed to be acting, but was impressed that she committed to creating this odd personality. and I was unsure.  For the first time I found myself wishing she would just stand there and tell jokes- I was being offered an amazing character, but was more interested in the stand-up…

The clip I’d like to share with you is her doing an impersonation of “stand up comics.” ( How meta, right?)  I’m still not sure what to think of her zoinked-out baseline.

On her personal website Maria lists the following credits among others:

• Comedy Central’s “The Comedians of Comedy Tour”
• Variety’s Top Ten Comics to Watch
• Late Night with Conan O’Brien
• The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
• Comedy Central Presents…Maria Bamford
• Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on PRI
• Best in the Festival Melbourne Comedy Festival Winner

The one that got me the most excited from this list was definitely the Prairie Home Companion appearance. 😉