According to my WordPress blog stats, my international audience is rapidly expanding, especially in the Axis of Evil countries. Perhaps this shows that getting a bee in your bonnet is universally funny, no matter whether you wear a bee veil or bee burka. In fact, having such a big following in Iran has really got me wondering if humor could help bridge the divides between warring cultures and countries.
I was hopeful. But after trying to expand my horizons by studying high-brow humor–you know the stuff you might see in the New Yorker or McSweeney’s–to pinpoint something that might possibly bridge the rural-urban divide in our own country, I’ve concluded that humanity is doomed.
Try as might to find some of that high-brow stuff funny, most of the time I feel like I’m forcing a smile. To me, it’s clever, but not funny. Funny is stuff that makes you laugh out loud, or better yet belly laugh so hard you have stomach spasms.
For me, there is nothing that makes me laugh harder than stories of well-intentioned men doing stupid stuff. For some reason that premise really resonates with me (not sure why). Thus, if we put the Founding Fathers of my sense of humor on a Mt. Rushmore of Mirth, they would be Ernest P. Worrell, Jerry Clower, Patrick McManus, plus the Generic Visage of Writhing Man (that is, any man whose face reflects the fact that his body is bent over clutching an appendage in some form of self-induced pain).
But I understand that as much as I find these things funny, other people do not. I remember growing up that my mom would always look at my dad incredulously as he belly laughed while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. “How can you find a man falling from a ladder funny?” her expression asked.
And just this week I saw that same expression on my wife’s face as I broke out in uncontrollable laughter at the SimpliSafe Fireworks video that has been circulating. To me, this video represents the peak of humor—a well-intentioned man trying to impress his family by shooting off an industrial sized firework. Unfortunately, Cape Canaveral was booked, so he doesn’t have the adequate launching pad needed for a rocket of this size. Instead, his tiny front yard in suburbia will have to do. The dad, gung-ho to impress his familial relations, gets in such a hurry (likely he didn’t read the instructions) and overlooks a critical step in rocketry, namely adding the rocket to the launching tube. Thus, the rocket fails to launch. Instead, it gives off a minor warning explosion before nearly blowing up the Minivan parked in the driveway, allowing the family adequate seconds to flee for their lives. Perhaps the funniest thing about the video is the particulars of the fleeing: the mom instantly grabs the baby in the bouncer, showing proper maternal instinct; meanwhile, the dad instantly runs away, leaving his other more mobile offspring to fend for themselves.
Every time I watch this video, I just can’t help but laugh. Hopefully, my readers in Iran will, too. I imagine Americans doing stupid stuff could be a real hit there.