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Sunday, June 28, 2020

What Is Good Comedy?

Comedy and humour has always been and will always be something that we all connect to as humans. In today's world, we have many different platforms to express humour- even as a profession! There can be different kinds of comedy on places, things, practices, customs, norms, people, anything and everything. So, what is good comedy? Is there anything called good comedy?

Well, you might say that a good comedy is one that can make it's audience laugh- that's basic. Is there any other parameter? For a statement or an act to become comedy there are two parts that we can clearly see: 
1. Someone must do the act or make the statement/story/etc.
2. Some others, hopefully a majority, must find it to be funny.
You cannot claim something to be a comedy. It must be one, and that is solely decided by whether there are people who find it funny. If no one finds it funny other than yourself, you can't really call it comedy. So, the second part basically decides whether it is a comedy or not. We all know this, and this is not what I am here to talk about. I want to talk about the third factor. As long as there are people who crack the joke, and people who enjoy/feel-bored, it is absolutely fine. The problem arises as to the question of whether it is good comedy only when there is a third factor of people (the ones closely associated with your joke, and a majority in that sample space) who are hurt.

What is good comedy? People laughing at jokes may not make it a good joke. A good joke, ideally, should be one that is enjoyable the most to the person or the group of persons connected to the place/person/act/practice that you joke about. In a not-so-ideal situation, you can water down the "most enjoyable part" to at least "not hurt". It ceases to be a joke when there is someone hurt by it. 

The person not being "sportive" enough, or not taking it "like a joke", is never a reason to justify their hurt. Being sportive or not is their choice. Since you are drawing fun at their expense, you don't have the right to overstep beyond what they give happily. I think this is the primary difference between classic, enjoyable, observant, and truly witty humour to that of insensitivity in the guise of humour. 

In today's world of memes and stand-up comedies, and several other expressions of humour through books, movies, theatre, art, and what not, it is better for all of us to carry this thought, and make humour stay true to its sense. 

I love humour, it is one my favourite genres to read. I love the subtle yet strong English humour of Wodehouse, and the sarcastic humour of Shaw. I also have loved and read essays and writings of Robert Fulghum, Erma Bombeck, and recently read hilarious ones such as The Mezzanine, and Me Talk Pretty One Day

After all, as Erma Bombeck said:
"When humor goes, there goes civilization."

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