Now that’s funny

Dissecting humour is like undoing a vasectomy.

It can be done. But chances are, you’re going to end up with a lot more explaining to do once you start.

Humour, of course, is one of those really subjective things in life. Not everyone laughs at the Three Stooges. Or Jackass. Some people don’t think Margaret Cho is funny. They can’t laugh out loud at Doug Stanhope.

I’ve come to the conclusion that making people laugh leans a lot on stereotypes. You know the kind: blacks are ‘great dancers’; Asians ‘work harder’; people who carry guns are ‘rednecks.’

Humour often borders on the offensive. AIDS jokes. Blonde jokes.

And then there’s the one from the guy who does the Royal Canadian Legion newsletter in Cranbrook, BC. He put out what he thought was a funny joke about two hunters using beer to lure an Indian so they could shoot and kill him.

You know the stereotype about drinking and Indians. You know the one about redneck hunters. It’s the part about shooting Indians that I find hard to dissect. If you re-work the joke and say, “Two hunters from Newfoundland and Ontario put some beer out to lure an Irish passerby so they could shoot him,” it’s still not funny.

If it was about a Cree and a Métis hunter parking a monster truck at the edge of a back-road to lure a redneck veteran to his death, I couldn’t bring myself to smile, let alone chuckle about that either.

It all comes down to this: being funny depends on reading the crowd correctly. Knowing your audience.

Sometimes you have ’em in the cross-hairs. Sometimes you’re tragically off the mark.

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