Humor Me. No, Really.

What makes you laugh?

We had a discussion about this at dinner the other night. I don’t remember what brought it up – it might have been a newspaper article about a movie or something. But we both noted that our sense of humor has changed as we’ve gotten older. Certainly what Hollywood considers funny is not at all on our radar. Slapstick, fart jokes, that kind of thing – do NOT make us laugh.

In a way, it’s a discouraging feeling. We like to laugh. Laughter is good. It keeps us healthy and helps us heal when we’re sick. It makes life enjoyable. We’d like to laugh more often. But that’s hard to do when so little seems funny. We don’t watch a lot of TV, but we do watch Big Bang Theory. And you know – once in a while, something on there will make me smile because it amused me. But it rarely makes me laugh.

It’s true that a lot of humor is in the surprise. When I do laugh, it’s usually because I didn’t see the joke coming. Maybe as we get older, it’s more of a challenge to surprise us.  But I wonder: is it just us? Or do other people notice their sense of humor changing as they age?

Neither Rick or I have ever been fans of slapstick humor, or of humor that embarrasses people. As kids, neither of us cared for Candid Camera. I Love Lucy made us cringe. So in this way, our preference hasn’t changed. We’ve never liked this kind of humor, and it seems to be Hollywood’s mainstay.

Standup comedy is rarely any better. It all seems to hinge on hurting or embarrassing someone. At least, these days, it does. I remember laughing with comedians like Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, or Robin Williams. But that was years ago. Would I still laugh at them now?

Am I normal? Or am I a bitter, grouchy woman married to a bitter, grouchy man?

Okay, I know that’s not the case. We are not bitter or grouchy. We do have joy in our lives. We’re happy. We just don’t laugh much. How do we fix that?


6 thoughts on “Humor Me. No, Really.”

  1. I tend to like edgy, offensive humor, so these suggestions may not be up your alley. But you could try:

    Or take a chapter from one of your manuscripts and run it through this to translate it into “gangsta.” The more staid and proper the manuscript, the funnier it will be. Regency romance works well. I ran part of Spy’s Honor through this and then laughed until I cried.

    Both links very much NSFW.

  2. Ed and I laugh a LOT–but mostly it’s from remembering things that happened to us or things that we said. I still find Robin Williams funny–especially when he’s ad lib’ing or doing stand-up. Both of us like things that take a sharp right (or left)–Gracie Allen type humor. I still howl at what Mark Twain, David Sedaris, James Thurber, etc. wrote. Here’s an excerpt from Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day that has me laughing out loud each time I read it.

  3. I think your idea that it is harder to be surprised is correct, and if you find yourself laughing when you don’t see the joke coming then it will be harder for trending comics to amuse you. Listen to some old Bill Cosby albums – if you still laugh, then you know it isn’t you, it’s the industry. Then go read some Mark Twain.

  4. To say that your humor has changed a bit is okay. You’ve experienced a few things more and and have learned to appreciate different things. I can certainly see where you come from as my own taste in music has changed quite a bit.

    Back to the humor, slapstick humor makes me cringe more than it makes me laugh, although it used to be funnier when I was younger. Not so much nowadays. As I’ve gotten older, I take less pleasure/find less humor in someone else’s physical torture, whether done by someone else accidentally or self-inflicted. Grab some Bill Cosby, some wine and call it a good laughter evening 🙂

  5. I think humour does change with age, but once you have a sense of humour, you don’t really lose it if you don’t want to. I just think the prevalence of certain types of humour makes it harder for you to laugh. I used to love Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers and the Three Stooges and I remember laughing like crazy at those movies, but they don’t get the same reaction from me now. And I agree–I don’t find much to like in sitcoms these days.

    However, I grew up in the Commonwealth and I think my problem has been that I don’t like American sitcoms as much as I like American stand-up comedy, and the former is what most people have available on their TV channels. I definitely prefer British comedies and I laugh like crazy with those. In fact, most comedies I like are from European countries or Australia. I just don’t get the fart and sex jokes, and I hate, hate, hate the Judd Apatow version of humour. Which to me, is not funny at all, just obnoxious. I’ve always hated pranks too–find them to be about hurting people these days and I can’t stand that. But I do like ‘Off their Rockers’, and I did like ‘Candid Camera’.

    When I want to laugh nowadays, I watch the British ‘In-Betweeners’, or Mr. Bean re-runs, or ‘Allo, ‘Allo’ re-runs, or any of the new movies that have come out. Like the British version of Death at a Funereal, which was horribly massacred in an American remake a year later. But mostly I like stand-up from any country. The other night I re-watched the Princess Bride and almost died laughing at Billy Crystal again.

    By the way, finally posted a review for your Shipbuilder at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Goodreads. Sorry it took so long! Hope it helps 🙂

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