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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Are puns really humor?

A couple days ago I related the two jokes in the post from earlier this month -- --

to a swimming buddy. He retorted, "Did you hear the one about the giraffe who walked into the bar? He said, 'Highballs on me'!"

I tried to smile, but I'm afraid it came out more of a grimace.

I like the two jokes from the post because they both say something about -- sorry, but I can't think of a less pretentious phrase at the moment -- the human condition. (Hey, just be thankful I didn't say it in French.) The joke about what wives say after sex says something about the nature of marriage that we all recognize and acknowledge (privately if not publicly). And the joke about Hillary and Chelsea makes a statement about Bill that captures the man perfectly.

But my buddy's joke didn't bring a wry smile of recognition, or hit anybody where it hurt, or help crystallize a thought in my mind, or, really, say anything about anything. All it did was bring to mind the age old question: are puns really humor?

When they're made in the service of a larger point, they can add to the humor. But on their own, I gotta say, no.


Anonymous said...

A horse walked into a bar, and the bartender says, "Why the long face?" You have to admit, that is very funny. Since when does a horse walk into a bar?

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Sorry, not gonna admit it (thanks for your comment anyway). I did hear a variation of that I liked though:

Sarah Jessica Parker walked into a bar, and the bartender asked, "Why the long face?"

Unknown said...

Nooooo... you guys are doing it all wrong!

Sarah Jessica Parker walks in to a bar...

She clearly isn't getting any better at show jumping.

John Craig said...