One of the advantages of writing a blog is that it give me a place to express my opinion. This blog will go into my “sounding off” section. Today I am sounding off about the lack of comedy in the newspaper comics.
I love Sunday mornings. I relax in my Lazy Boy and read the paper and just enjoy the morning. Even when I have a motorcycle ride planned on Sundays I try to delay the start time until 9 or 10 a.m. so I can enjoy the morning with my wife. I read what interests me in the news and look at the ads, searching for something for which I have a need or look through the sporting goods and hardware ads looking for things that might make my life easier more enjoyable. Lastly, I pick up the comics section and search for something funny, something that will make me laugh or at the very least, make me smile. Rarely do I find anything humorous and almost never find anything remotely even clever or original. It seems to me that most of the time the creators of comic strips just rehash the same old story lines. Case in point; how many times do we need to know that Garfield is fat and lazy and that Sarge is a mean SOB and likes taking out his temper on Beetle?
I would never claim that I have the talent of making people laugh. My wife says that living with me is like living in a poorly written sitcom, but I do know what is funny when I hear it or see it.
When I was in college I was listening to a talk show commentator that was discussing what is funny and what makes people laugh. He claimed that it was to say or do something that is totally unexpected. He cited Steve Martin as a comedian that had mastered this technique. He gave an example, and I want to apologize to Mr. Martin if I don’t get this completely right. Steve Martin, “When you take hostages you have to make demands. For example, I want one hundred thousand dollars in small-unmarked bills, a get-away car and a full size elephant made of chocolate. You always need to ask for one completely crazy thing so if you get caught you can claim you were insane at the time….LOL… get-away car.” See what he did there? You thought he was going say the chocolate elephant, but unexpectedly he said get-away car. It’s funny or even more funny when you see Mr. Martin deliver the line.
Rita Rudner was the Queen of comedy that incorporated the unexpected line. Here are some examples: “
I love to shop after a bad relationship. I don’t know. I buy a new outfit and it makes me feel better. It just does. Sometimes I see a really great outfit, I’ll break up with someone on purpose.
My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.
I had the worst birthday party ever when I was a child because my parents hired a pony to give rides. And these ponies are never in good health. But this one dropped dead. It just wasn’t much fun after that. One kid would sit on him and the rest of us would drag him around.”
To write a comic strip you should be qualified and those qualification should include being funny. Have any comic strip writers ever been a stand-up comedian or at the very least, a class clown? Or were they just good drawers of cartoon characters and thought, “hey, I should be a comic-strip writer.” In and of its self, no cartoon character is funny enough to make people laugh if the character is saying something boring or if they have said it a million times before.
In all fairness, there may be some really funny comic strip writers out there and maybe our newspaper is just not willing to pay for funny comics. In the past I have enjoyed reading Calvin and Hobbes or Gary Larsen’s The Far Side, but even they did not always make me laugh or even smile.
Maybe I expect too much. Maybe the Comic Strips are not intended to make me laugh, but the definition of comic is, “causing or meant to cause laughter.” I think that if they would just change the name from Comics to, “Redundent Strip”, or “Boring Strip” or “Funny Drawings (just ignore the words) Strip, maybe I wouldn’t be so frustrated when I try to find something that will make me laugh in the Comic Strips.
Anyway….for what it’s worth.