Sunday, February 19, 2006

Roots of Dawno's Sense of Humor

I've been thinking a lot lately about humor. A couple folk have encouraged me to try my hand at longer humorous bits than the occasional bons mots I'll drop on AW and posts I do here.

Doing that comes fairly easy because my sense of humor naturally switches on in response to things people say or stuff that's going on in my everyday life - it's how I react to nearly everything in life.

Even tragedy in my own life gets a dose of humor - sitting out on display in the office of the funeral home where my immediate family were arranging my mother's cremation, were several sculptures, memorial urns and chests one could select to hold the deceased's ashes. Some of them just struck us all (my siblings and father, alike) as absurd and we did make a number of remarks that, if you had been evesdropping and were even just a bit straightlaced, you might have found rather inappropriate.

But really, the golfer one did look like a guy surfing or wading with a golf club in hand. It was only the fact there was a golf club that gave any hint this was some kind of a final resting place for the ashes of a serious duffer. Imagine this sitting on an upper shelf, across the room from where you're sitting, and that you're looking at a side view - see what I mean? I think I initially wondered if he was standing on an orca or something, clubbing it with his 9 iron. And lest you think my father was disappointed in his offspring, as I recall, he was the one who started it. Later we sat around the dining room table, my sibs and Dad and I, with some bottles of wine and we talked about Mom and our lives with her. We cried, yes, but we also laughed.

Well. Moving on. There are other sources than my daily life or my past, that I can go to - politics and current events are staples of humor, although I think Jon Stewart really has that wrapped up - did any of you watch his show the Monday after Cheney's hunting accident? That was priceless.

Before I forget, let me say that this whole post was inspired by Liam on AW who posted: "Next issue- Hedge hog is neither a hedge, nor a hog. Discuss." Read on, you'll see why.

As I said earlier, I come from a funny family - my brother kept us in stitches with his impersonations and accents. Dad loved to tell shaggy dog stories. I fondly remember Dad bringing home a reel to reel tape deck, this was probably in 1969 or 1970, and checking out all the Cosby albums from the base library and taping them. We would sit in the living room and listen to them as a family and all laugh until our sides ached and our faces were soaked with tears. He also taped some radio comedy shows that he and Mom used to listen to when they were young, if I am recollecting correctly, which we also loved.

Then, when I was a teen, my friends and I listened to a radio show called Dr. Demento. He played parody songs and comedy bits. (Weird Al got a big break on his show. ) We'd sit around in the living room of which ever parents would put up with us that week, and drink Coke, eat chips, and howl with laughter.

My two best friends, John B. and John C. had a number of the skits and songs from the show memorized. They also had Tom Lehrer and Firesign Theatre albums - again with a number of the songs and skits known by heart.

I don't remember all the lyrics anymore but occasionally a stray line will pop into my head, like from Poisoning Pigeons in the Park and I can practically hear us all singing along to a parody song from the late 50's as we sprawled on the floor near the stereo, back in the mid 70's. I hope there are still kids in this new millenium who do the same. Some of the old stuff is hard to comprehend unless you understand the social and political context, but Poisoning Pigeons? Classic.

I also became acquainted with Monty Python around the same time. And one of our favorite skits (and not just among my friends, my parents thought it was hysterical as well) was The Piranha Brothers and Spiny Norman the hedgehog that Dinsdale Piranha feared (who could be anywhere between 12 feet and 800 yards long, depending on Dinsdale's state of mind). As an aside, I've never met a real hedgehog, but when the topic came up today, I went to Google to find out more about hedgehogs and came upon this site. Talk about cute critters. (told you Liam's post meant something - thinking about hedgehogs got this whole train of thought rolling)

Now some of my favorite reading comes from books by Terry Pratchett and Janet Evanovich. My news page on Yahoo has "Oddly Enough" news and that's one of the first places I read. The Onion and FARK are also favorites.

So, that's my story. There is a lot more that helped shape the way I think about things and respond to life, but I'll end here for tonight. Feel free to comment about things that influenced your sense of humor. I'd love to know.

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emeraldcite said...

Dr. Demento...check.
Monty Python...check.
Mystery Science Thearter 3000...


I figured that you would have been a devotee...

I think early exposure to Monty Python leads to a twisted, yet humorous, sense of reality. After a little MP, you can't take anything seriously. Freakin' brilliant.

I'm not very funny on my own. My humor is often reactive. I don't know if it's the Star Trek equivalent of "Shields up!" or not, but I usually use it in situations where I have to talk to people...


I also find that people have to get to know me before they understand my sense of humor. I can be a bit off-putting at first. Those who meet me for the first time tend to stare at me in silence when I say something witty or sarcastic.

But people who get to know me tend to laugh more often because they know what to expect. I sometimes have a very scathing sense of humor.

Dawno said...

Oh I love MST3K, but it's not an early influence. I didn't get introduced to it till the 90's. Manos Hands of Fate!

Frank Baron said...

Canadians are born with a sense of humour. When you spend 2/3rds of your life shivering in the dark you gotta laugh.

I'm a little older than you so the records that cracked me up were by Bob Newhart and the Smothers Brothers. When funny cigarettes came along it was Cheech and Chong.

Monty Python was wonderful and I was a huge fan. Before it was the Goon Show with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were also a very funny duo.

Some Made In Canada funsters were the SCTV gang, CODCO and the Kids In The Hall.

There's no doubt my humour was shaped by all of the above and if there's a commonality among them it might be seizing on that nugget of absurdity that lies below the surface of nearly every situation.

Dawno said...

I loved SCTV when it finally showed up in the US. I bought the first DVD when they came out, too. That reminds me, I wonder if there are more episodes out now.

Remember "Boil Boy"? *snork*

Ray Wong said...

aw, pootie cat....

Tish G. said...

ya had to go and mention the Pirahna Bros! "And then he nailed my head to the floor..."

it was even funnier when I found out the origin of the skit--two gangster brothers called the Krays in 1960's was paranoid (but I don't think followed by a hedgehog.)

Very funny about that duffer statue too--def. looks like he's whacking an orca :-)

Dawno said...

Tish, that part was the one that put my mom into hysterics. "he was a cruel man but fair" cracked her up.