I like to laugh, and I aspire to be able to write in a way that gives other people a laugh, too. However, I've noticed that it's extremely hard to find anyone who's known for being funny who doesn't resort to vulgarity in order to be funny. It's become quite clear that the world in general seems to find rudeness hilarious. Children aren't allowed to see recordings of most stand-up comedians' performances for good reason.
In the spirit of humor....some people still look cute and fashionable when bundled up to face the snow. We do not.
I am not someone who believes that 100% of all use of swear words is inherently evil. I don't decide whether or not to be someone's friend based on their language (though if I'm honest, I suspect that Angel's language choices have had a slight negative impact on mine over the years). I'm not one who thinks you can turn a bad movie into a good movie by filtering out all swear words. To me, that's silly. However, I do believe that words are very powerful, and that people can make their feelings known in a more creative and interesting--and YES, witty and humorous--fashion than by simply resorting to the same old vulgar curse words that everybody else uses. (Has no one ever heard Downton Abbey's Violet Crawley's one-liners? Some of them are quite incredible.) Cursing because you're angry or because you want to amuse people is not a habit I support. Certain people are very proud of themselves because they can curse up a storm and create a shock factor with their speech or writing. Well, in my experience, so can the average rebellious 7th grader who wants attention, so I'm not sure that should be considered such a grand accomplishment in the realm of humor.
But I'm not merely speaking about swearing here. I don't want anyone to misunderstand and think I'm only talking about that particular small issue. I'm more concerned with the over-arching theme that funny has to mean vulgar or unkind. The trend in popular humor is to take all that's sacred and turn it into something merely silly. I've noticed quite a few humor bloggers seem to find the majority of their humor in mocking the habits of others. Now, there are ways to get a laugh at the expense of a certain person or a certain group without hurting anyone's feelings, and there's are ways that do hurt feelings. It's usually pretty easy to tell when a post or article is written from the context of love for the person who is the butt of the joke, and when it's not written from a context of love at all. (For the record, "Angelisms" posts are written with love, and my husband feels very loved when you all laugh at his comments.) This mocking type of humor that is cruel and degrading to others is also apparent in sitcoms and comedic movies--and it doesn't make me laugh. When I see hurtful humor, it doesn't matter whether it's directed towards me or towards someone I love or towards any other random group of people, it makes me angry that it's popular to get a laugh by degrading others.
I can't change what's popular. There are going to be many, many more rude comedic movies that come out in the future that a lot of people are going to love. That's what easy humor is. It doesn't take much effort to throw a couple cuss words in and talk about unfortunate bodily functions and stage a scene of middle-aged men ogling pretty women to get a cheap laugh. It's a simple formula to follow. It takes a little extra work to find humor in life without resorting to low blows. I can't change the fact that easy humor is easy. What I can guarantee is that in my own writing and in my choices of entertainment, I will continue to choose the type of real-life humor that I genuinely enjoy--though it might not be quite as easy to find. I don't believe that good humor means innocence must be lost--some things are sacred for good reason, and they should be kept sacred. The most risqué it'll ever get on this blog is probably Angel's "shower" comment--years later I still blush to think about it, but it was the perfect combination of timing and awkwardness and family dynamics, so I still think it was worth the laugh.
I do believe that humor can be gentle, kind, and joyful. I don't think that the best jokes are the most offensive ones, and I'm convinced that though people who are able to be funny without being vulgar may be rare, they're worth listening to.
My #1 favorite funny guy who doesn't err on the side of vulgarity is Jon Acuff, writer of Stuff Christians Like. Now there's a book that both shows a great love for our faith and does a clever job poking fun at the culture surrounding Christianity.
What type of humor do you enjoy most? Who's your favorite funny writer/comedian?
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