Monday, May 09, 2005

Why Horror Beats Humor

So I'm out with my buddies the other night, having a great time, and of course, I wind up making a jackass out of myself.

See, I'm the kind of guy who will do anything to make people laugh; I'm always cracking jokes and shooting off one-liners and so forth.

(Remember, women always say they want a man with a sense of humor. So why don't I have one? But anyway...)

So my buddy and I are always busting each other's balls about something. And I started giving him a hard time about something - I'm joking, mind you - and I guess he didn't see the humor in it.

Only, I thought when he got snarky, he was playing along. So I egged him on. You can see where this is going.

Anyway, the next day, he (metaphorically) smacked me upside the head, and I apologized and we laughed and moved on. We're buds, we're smart-asses, these things happen. So, my bad.

And that rather ham-handedly segues into my main point, which is that the problem with being a perpetual wise-ass is that humor tends to be subjective.

For instance, when I thought I was laughing WITH my buddy, he thought I was laughing AT him. Not true at all, but you see how it can go the wrong way.

And in this litigious society, with political correctness running rampant and everyone having to worry about what they say and when they say it, you can see how the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan, and sometimes over something thoroughly innocuous. Did I spell that right? No editing, remember? It's one of those words I can never spell, but that's a copy-editor-geek post for another day.

Back to humor being subjective.

This is the thing: I like horror movies. And action movies. A lot of my friends like horror movies, and action movies.

And when you talk with a horror fan about horror movies, generally speaking, everyone agrees on things. Same with action movies. I mean, sure, there are some disagreements, but I'm talking in a general sense.

Everybody who likes horror likes "Jaws." Everybody regards "Halloween" as either a classic, or overrated, but agrees it's a seminal slasher. Nobody's scared by "Friday the 13th," but it's a true favorite of fans of a certain age (like me).

Every action fan likes "Predator." And "The Terminator," and every other Schwarzenegger movie. Except the one where he's pregnant. Every alpha-male action fan loves "Tombstone," may director George P. Cosmatos rest in peace.

And so on. I mean, think about it. Good horror and good action are shared tastes and easy to define. "Aliens." "Dawn of the Dead." OK, so there's plenty of debate on the remake, but any honest fan will say it's pretty good for what it is. And so forth.

But comedy, now comedy is subjective.

Think about it. Who's your favorite comedian? No matter how funny you think he/she is, ask your best friend if he/she thinks said comedian is funny. Now ask a couple of other friends. You're going to find at least one who can take or leave said comedian, and at least one other who won't even watch a movie with that star. Hell, you might find some who like one movie with the comedian, and don't like another.

Take Bill Murray, for instance. I love "Ghostbusters," and I think I love "Groundhog Day" more. But I don't like "Stripes," and I really don't like "Caddyshack." My best friend would find that blasphemy.

Some people think the "American Pie" type of film is funny, you know, like "Road Trip" and "Euro Trip," and so forth. I gotta say, they crack me up, despite myself.

On the other hand, I don't get Will Ferrell. Most everyone I know really thinks he's great. Outside of his Dubya act on SNL, I just don't get it. Not one bit.

Once, again, that's an example of how humor is subjective even with the same subject. I laugh at most Tim Allen movies ("Santa Clause," "Joe Somebody," etc.), which I'm not sure anyone else thinks are funny. But lots of people watched "Home Improvement," and I could never get into it, even though, from what I understand, Tim Allen plays the same guy in the movies.

I like "Tommy Boy." I love "Tommy Boy." I really don't think anything else the late Chris Farley made is even remotely funny, and I can't stand David Spade. But "Tommy Boy" is magic.

Think about it. No matter how much homosexual overtone you find in them, 99 percent of the world likes "Top Gun" and the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

But how many people like "Hollywood Homicide"? Not many, if box office means anything.

I could watch that film all day. Every day. It cracks me up.

I could go on and on, but I'm pretty sure the horse is dead, so I see no reason to keep hitting it with my hockey stick.

You get the point. And that's why I don't like comedy, despite my penchant for humor. Sometimes, like the other night with my buddy, I'm just not funny. But I usually think I am, so I crack the joke.

And every once in a while, I'm greeted with that stony silence that says, "nope, that one didn't fly."

Funny, did you ever think somebody would call horror "safe"?

But when it comes to shared taste in films, that's just what it is.

Links:
Laughing Colors, whose lead singer we saw last night
The late George P. Cosmatos
A random Bill Murray fan site
Will Ferrell on SNL
Tim Allen's official site
The Chris Farley Foundation

And, randomly and grotesquely, a picture of people beating a dead horse.

1 Comment:

UK Redsox said...

I'm with you on this comedy thing. For example, two of the big TV comedies over here in Blighty at the moment are "The Office" and "Little Britain". Everyone I know raves about them but they just leave me cold. Same goes for the so called "Classic" Fawlty Towers, I just don't get it.

Regards from England and keep up the blogging.

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