Woody Allen is funny. You can hate him if you want. I love him. He’s 3 out of 4 things that I find appealing in people.
Okay. Make that 4 out of 4.
So I know what I think is funny, and I know other people think that I am funny; but I am almost never trying to be funny.
Secret: I take myself pretty seriously. I’m one of those people who would probably say, in earnest, “I’m kind of a big deal.” You would think I’m joking. You’re laughing now, aren’t you? I’m not.
When I was in college, in a creative writing workshop, my professor said, “This story is funny!”
I was legitimately puzzled. I said, “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
He said, “Yeah right.”
So I figure, go with it! If people think I’m funny, then I am. Even though it’s kind of sad that when I get laughs, it’s usually when I’m telling the truth.
Now, in case you spend any time with me, I should admit that I do now–especially when alcohol is involved–crack wise. But you would be surprised to know how often people just kind of say “Oh.” in that far off way, their eyes glaze over when I’m making a joke, and laugh out loud when I don’t think I am.
Funny is elusive.
In Crimes and Misdemeanors, Alan Alda’s character walks around saying, “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny.”
I think the joke in the film is that Lester (played by Alda) is not funny, and he wouldn’t know funny if it bit him in the nose. But that little adage struck me when I watched the film, and still, many years later, as some kind of hidden secret of The Story of Funny as Told By Woody Allen.
I did an interview with a local rapper for the Sun-Gazette. You can read it here. People told me for weeks after how funny it was, how it made them laugh. I have to tell you, I have rarely been so miserable in an interview.
I recognized the comedy of the situation, North Central PA, interviewing a guy called AP tha Don who’s white. I think he identifies as Italian, hence “tha Don.” But man oh man. When people laughed, I was expressing my displeasure in the marvelous, passive-aggressive way that interviewing journalists can.
So my point is that I think I’m not funny, so I never mark my posts as “humor,” but it seems like that’s a good way to get some readers. The trouble is, I can’t identify when I’m being funny. What I think is funny, other people think is mean. What other people think is funny, I think is honest.
Maybe I’ll just start tagging every third post with “humor” and see what happens.