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Posts Tagged ‘deadpan’

I have spent much of my life insisting that I am not funny.

Which, it turns out, is all a big joke. But one that most people aren’t going to get at all. Because I actually think I’m quite funny. I amuse the hell out of myself on a daily basis.

In contrast, I don’t think a lot of traditionally funny people are very funny at all. You know how people feel this need to tell jokes? As in, they recite a pre-canned joke complete with punch line? I’ll laugh to be polite, but I rarely find them very funny. I can’t tell them myself to save my life. And I won’t remember them at all after a day. Same with sitcoms in which the main source of the funny seems to be people being dumb and getting themselves into big, stressful messes. Although there are exceptions, I mostly feel sad when I watch people being dumb. And I worry about them when things start to go really wrong. Or I just don’t care. But what I don’t do is find it very funny.

Very occasionally, I will find someone who thinks I am completely hilarious. My husband is one of these rare people. I met another one at Taos, a colleague of mine who “doesn’t understand humor.” For someone who doesn’t understand humor, she makes me laugh a whole lot more than almost anybody else I know. I have another local friend who will suddenly bust up laughing at something I said, while the rest of the room looks on in bafflement or doesn’t even notice.
I recently decided to investigate this strange phenomenon, and I reached a startling (for me, anyway) and exciting conclusion. It turns out that I have been practicing the art of dry or deadpan humor for most of my life. Yes, without even knowing it. Another fact I find terribly amusing.

The interesting thing about dry humor is that it takes a certain amount of attention to catch it. If, for example, you’re only half listening to what someone is saying, there’s very little chance of you noticing the little joke they drop in halfway through a conversation. Dry humor is subtle and purposefully lacking in cues. And it happens really fast, which means your wit has to be turned up to full in order to appreciate it before the moment has passed. It also tends to lose its comic value if it has to be explained.

When I deliver one of my little jokes, my vocal inflection often doesn’t change much if at all. Sometimes I myself am unaware that I’m making a joke until it’s already out of my mouth. I have trouble believing, knowing myself as I do, that I keep a completely straight expression. But on the other hand, I spend a lot of time smiling, so how is one to tell the difference between my habitual smile and my sly “I just committed some humor” smile? So again, not a huge red flag. The entire sense of the humor lies in the words I’ve spoken and their context.

The best part of dry humor? I can easily entertain myself. The worst part? When I laugh at other people’s unintentional dry humor, or the absurdity of a situation, and people become worried or offended because they don’t get the joke. Which is why most of the time, I’m laughing on the inside while keeping my deadpan smile firmly in place.

How about you? What do you find funny? Any fellow dry humor aficionados out there?

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