Sunday, March 15, 2009

Haggis' New Rule for Humor

In my younger days (1960s-1970s) a well-timed F-bomb or a crude reference to a reproductive organ would have me rolling in the aisles. Lenny Bruce knocked ‘em dead in the clubs with that kind of material. Richard Pryor too. But nobody did it better than George Carlin. His (in)famous 7 Filthy Words You Can’t Say on TV was classic. So if I laughed then, why don’t I laugh today?

Is it because I’m older? Is it because I’ve turned into some kind of prude? Is it because I’ve completely lost my sense of humor? Well, sure. But I think there’s another reason too. Vulgarity simply isn’t funny anymore.

Humor is a lot like horror, my other vice. They both sneak up on you from behind. The difference is that humor hits you in the face with a banana cream pie while horror chews your neck off. In both cases, it's the "sneaking up" that makes it work. And F-bombs simply don't sneak today. Why? Because they've become commonplace. They’re no longer unexpected. They no longer shock. They've lost their punch--their edge.

Hang around a bunch of teens or twenties long enough and you'll know what I mean. It's "eff this" and "eff that." It's "eff" as a noun, adjective, verb, adverb and probably a gerund too, whatever the hell a gerund is. So how can it sneak up on you when it's in your face all the time? It's lost its meaning.

So I'm declaring vulgarity dead in humor as of today, and I have to say I won't miss its passing. If you do, I'm sorry, but you're simply going to have to deal with it. Move along. Shock me with something different. Maybe try innuendo for a change. Innuendo's a lot harder to do, but it's infinitely cleverer. And it makes me laugh.


  1. “Brevity is the soul of wit” and the F-bomb doesn’t constitute as brevity. I wholeheartedly agree with you even when I find myself using the f-bomb, but it’s mostly in anger. There’s just no other word that pulls from the gut and can convey the same feeling as the F-word when you’re really mad. But in humor, it’s the innuendos, the comebacks and delivery that bring humor to the surface forcing me to smile or laugh like it’s going out of style. It’s also the hardest genre for me to write. Great post, Haggis. *winks* ToT

  2. Tater, Darlin'! :)

    Humor's tough, man. No question about it. And what worked yesterday won't work today.

    I still get a chuckle out of watching the old Carlin clip, but I can put it in its cultural context too. Something new like that? Naw. ain't gonna work.

    People might differ with me, and that's okay. But, of course, I've already changed the rules, so they're simply out of luck. :)

  3. Thanks, Kimmi. But we can still talk dirty to each other. ;)

  4. In general I agree with you. Profanity has lost its shock value. But I still think George was the funniest man who ever lived.


  5. Heh. As a stand up comedian there are few who could touch him. But he had a whole lot more than shock profanity going for him.

    Lordy, I miss him. *sigh*

    But as far as writers go, I'd opt for the likes of Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, O. Henry, Garrison Keillor or Dave Barry.

  6. You say the sweetest things. :D

  7. STEVE! I didn't know that you'd started blogging. Now what do we have to do to get you on Twitter?

    (And, yes, vulgarities have lost their shock value. Sad, really.)

  8. Twitter?


    GAH! I'm technologically challenged, you know.

    Next thing you know, everybody will be expecting me to post from my cell phone.

  9. No. Not everyone. Not I. Cell phones are for talking on while driving.

  10. nice post, haggis. IF that is your real name!

    anyway, i don't even think humor has to sneak up on you. it's everywhere. if you look at it and present it properly there's no need to f$*%*!@! force it. sorry.

    to me, you're ground hog letter is a good example - a relatively unfunny thing viewed from a funny angle.



  11. Okay, Lori. You've twittified me. I'm there. Just in time to find out you've gone dark for the foreseeable future. Push technology on me, then run away from it yourself. For shame. ;)

    Cray, you're right (I don't believe I said that). Not all humor does have to sneak. Nor does all horror either, but it's a damn good approach in both cases. Some times, of course, you can just walk straight up to someone and shove the banana cream pie in his face. Either that or change his avatar. :D

  12. Sounds like you have just found out the real meaning of humour, behind the facet of modern day. I for one, have never really got a joke or have never understood the play on words people (adults) speak of. I seem to find children's jokes a lot more stimulating than trying to find a couple of words together to meet a punchline. Great blog, and great post. (Just so you know, this is Truelyana from AW)

  13. Ha! Found you! Blame Lori...oh, wait, everything's my fault.

    Would love to follow you on Twitter, too...if I only knew how to find you. I'm AWDawno on Twitter, btw.

  14. Thanks, Ana.

    I'm still looking for the real meaning of humor. Sometimes it's easier to figure out what something's not than what it is. :)


    *hug tackles Dawno*

    Okay, on Twitter, I'm Haggis mit a line--in other words, I'm Haggis_

    The underscore thingy. You know.

    Fair warning though. I'm still trying to figure out this Twitter thing. And, while everything else is your fault, I blame my participation in Twitter on Lori.

  15. Actually, what I go for in humorous swearing these days is not the words themselves, but replacing 'em with things. I think a well placed **** is funnier than the word itself. And many times on Twitter have I ended a message, "WTF, World?" or something. Not side-splitting, but it works for amusement more than the swear itself would.

  16. I'll gladly accept the blame for getting you on Twitter, Steve.

  17. Hi, Peedee.

    Yeah, textspeak doesn't have the same harshness. It comes across almost like a verbal smilie.

  18. I wish I ******* saw this prior to this weekend :(
    I can only control my mouth around my mother, however anyway *sigh*