Context: There’s a report today that the family of a crime victim pronounced that a related incident in a comedy “wasn’t funny.” (pizza bomber)
All humor is macroinformation, complex information, requiring interpretation. There can be no pronouncements, no authority, on the subject.
People know and love Lewis Carrol’s Alice writings long before they suspect that there’s plenty of mind-stretching cud to chew between the fantasies. I know the Jabberwocky poem itself lived under my skin, way deeper than my notice, before I suspected in my waking conscious rational mind that there was anything to think twice about.
In fact I’m sure I can identify a particular moment when Carrol elevated in my estimation. I was an undergraduate, Anton was a good friend: and Anton told how BBC radio had made him roar by replaying some Nazi anti-Brit propaganda from WWII-time. The shtick was that a couple of krauts were taking an inventory of English inferiorities, and one they highlighted was the accusation that the English have no sense of humor! (That is that they have a poor or silly or unworthy sense of humor.) And the other kraut proceeded to read the Jabberwocky, aloud, mis-Germanifying everything of course.
Tvas brillich und der slithy tove-e´s
Did gyre and gimbol
In der vabbe?
Dere: vat’s funny about zat? !?
Anton swore that the broadcast was real, that the moron propagandists had no idea how hilarious they were being in not getting a single iota of the humor! I was sputtering, Anton was choking with laughter.
Here’s a related memory: Speaking of comedy, I loved Steve Allen from grade school on. One gag he brought off better than anyone was a shtick I’ll call the gag of the mis-introduced double talk artist. Steve once introduced an engineer who’d just built the world’s first underwater bride. The guy gives some pseudo-physics about buoyancy, saving building materials … the cost of his bridge was way less than … Finally Steve asks the guy how anybody can drive on it if it’s under water and the guy’s real spiel began: “They can’t, that will really save money, save lives … Why is everybody driving all over hell and gone anyway … And it soon degenerated (elevated as comedy) into the best double-talk I’d heard in a decade.
Another night Steve introduces a guy as the President of the Polish Anti-Defamation League. The guy is all serious and he talks about how insensitive to the feelings of others comedians who tell race jokes, anti-Semite jokes, Black jokes … Polish jokes are. And he illustrates with a couple of Polish jokes that we’re supposed to be indignant about … but of course everybody is laughing their ass off, and the joke teller is getting more and more incensed …
Finally he just gets up and tells a string of hilarious Polish jokes. That was his shtick; he wasn’t any president of any Polish Anti-Defamation League; he was a Polish joke teller, and a damn good one.
He didn’t tell us that is was not funny; he told us that it should not be funny: that’s even funnier! if you have a good native sense of Macroinformation.