Monday, September 2, 2013


When humor goes, there goes civilization. Erma Bombeck, American Humorist (1927-1996)

Erma Bombeck became a big favorite of mine when I discovered her newspaper column in the 1980s. I also read some of her books which I found to be very funny; but as funny as I think her work is, there are others who may not.  I suppose if all humans had the same personality, including sense of humor, we’d be virtual robots.

In my family, there are times when we all laugh together and of course, times when we don’t. For example: Most people who’ve seen the long running TV show from the 1950s, I Love Lucy, laugh a lot when watching it. On a marathon Saturday, when one episode after another is aired, my husband and children sit, watch a couple shows, and have the best fun. Me… no. It wasn’t one of my favorites as a child and has never been a “gotta stop and watch” show for me. I recognize that Lucille Ball was a comedic genius and I’ve had many laughs from the show, however, it’s not high on my list of best comedies. Interestingly, I’d do better watching a Carol Burnett rerun, someone who also does physical comedy.

The sense of humor factor gave me cause for thought after reading an article in the Huffington Post about a woman who does the happy dance at the bus stop on the first day of school. This year as the bus rolled away with her two sons in tow, Mom (Tracy Moutafis) danced to Bye, Bye, Bye by NSYNC. I totally “got it.” Years ago when most of my neighbors (on the street of my previous house) had small kids, one of the moms let out a yell that could probably be heard a couple blocks away as the bus became a yellow speck down the street. Even I got caught up in the dance thing when my last one went to kindergarten, though I limited it to 3 seconds and had no music accoutrement.

After laughing at the video and smiling while reminiscing, I read some of the comments. While many felt as I did, the other half commented with these responses and more that are worse: “She might not be embarrassed, but her kids will be!,” “One day her children will dance as they bring her to the old age home, ever close to that life insurance money,” “God forbid but how proud of this video is this lady gonna be if something bad happened at school and that child did not come home off that bus that she was publicly celebrating him getting on,” and “What a shameless cow.”

Did I miss something?

Okay, I realize that the dance celebration would not be funny to everyone—especially new moms; but to get so worked up?

So you might say that a bit of pushing the envelope makes me laugh. Raunchiness – No. Other people like corny jokes and acts. I like that, too, but it might not give me a gut busting laugh. And jokes that are too long tend to lose me. Physical comedy is good when paired with a good line or two, like seeing someone demonstrate how they used the squat toilet in India for the first time—funny!

It’s not just professional comedy that I’m speaking of.  It’s the unplanned conversations with family and friends that elicit some of the best laughs, because we all know that the quasi ridiculousness of life provides us with some very good material.

What makes you laugh? What’s your brand of humor?

image from Microsoft clipart


Shelly said...

I'm with you. Raunchy, no. Physical comedy yes, if it's not too cheesy. There's been a video going around that makes me just about lose control laughing, of Japanese office worker who turns a corner to see what he thinks is a dinosaur chasing him. Unplanned reactions like that to me are the funniest.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Only the woman knows what that time "alone" or without the kids means to her. I would not judge her. And what if she was celebrating their independence from her?

I sometimes smile when I remember family events.

joeh said...

I am with you to a tee on Lucy, like her, appreciate she was a comic genius but she was never a favorite. Hmmmm...Cosby, Carlin, The early SNL, Chris Rock, "Leave it to Beaver," Howard Stern, Cheech and Chong, Prior, Seinfeld.

People that get their hackles up over a happy dance probably have never done a happy dance.

Mari said...

I loved Erma Bombeck too. I love humor that shows how people react. I used to watch Candid camera when I was younger and would laugh till I had tears running down my face. My hubby doesn't think that kind of thing is funny but laughs at other things while I just sit there...
We're all different!

Abby said...

When it comes to youtube videos and the like, it's too easy to be anonymous, and there will always be haters no matter what the joke is.

I think I most appreciate funny observations that are funny because they're so true. Erma Bombeck was good with those. I sheepishly admit that I always laugh when I watch Family Guy and/or Futurama. But the kids watch those shows, I don't turn them on just for me!! (disclaimer)

Hilary said...

My enjoyment of humour is wide and varied. Anywhere from the sophisticated to the really silly. Some of the funniest people are right here in the blogosphere. I'm so grateful for having found many of them. It's a true gift to be able to evoke a laugh.

That mom is a hoot. People get up in arms about anything and everything. Her little dance reminds me of a Staples commercial that usually comes on each year at this time (our Ontario kids always go back to school the day after Labo(u)r Day).

Here it is...

Mage said...

Mine seems a lot like yours. I like Carol Burnett and don't like Lucy. I danced when my troublesome eldest went off to get married. I lept into the air and clicked my heels. We have a photograph to prove it.

Hilary said...

Great post! I never really liked Lucy, either, and funny enough, I remember reading Erma Bombeck as a kid - -easily I was in the 6th grade. I didn't get it then, but I do now :) As for comedy, I think I run the spectrum. I did enjoy Carole Burnett, can remember laughing hysterically at Benny Hill with my dad, and crying with tears at Katt Williams with my mom. I kind of like it all. As to the woman doing the happy dance? You know, if social media weren't so pervasive, this would be a non-issue, plain and simple. Just because there is a platform on which to praise or criticize, doesn't mean you have to.

Barb said...

From the time our Grandchildren were toddlers, Pop Pop and I have performed the Peace and Quiet Dance in our driveway after we've had them for several days and their parents are taking them home. Now, they remind us to do it, in case we might forget. We jitterbug, we twirl, we wave our hands as we mouth "peace and quiet!" I don't know what the neighbors think, but our grandchildren think it's a riot. Those folks commenting on the bus incident need to lighten up. Tragedy can occur, but surely her song and dance didn't mean she doesn't love her kids. Sometimes, people just get too serious and judgmental (though of course, I'm never one of them).

Linda Hensley said...

I loved Erma Bombeck too, and prefer Carol Burnet over Lucy. I thought I was the only one. Why do so many people try to squash us all into their ideas of conformity? Let the mom do her happy dance. If her kids are embarrassed, it just becomes one of the stories they repeat at a holiday or when they tell their own kids they don't know how good they've got it :)

Arlee Bird said...

A lot of commercial humor has gotten too mean-spirited and raunchy. Everyone thinks they have to be relevant in a world that is already weighed down. Sure, I can appreciate good intelligent humor, but I want to have fun.

I enjoy the old traditional comics and comedy shows. Laughter and smiles can cure what ails us, or at the very least make us feel a little better when we're in a down place. That what comedy should be about.

A Faraway View

yonca said...

Anita, my favorite was The Cosby Show.
It is hard to find a tv Show/tv series that all family members like..but watching a fun show as a family and laughing together is an oppurtunity to share a bond.

Rebecca S. said...

There's a great line in Pride and Prejudice, "What is life for but to make sport for our neighbours and have them laugh at us in their turn."
Humour is key to survival, at least for me.
As for those commenters on Youtube, they really are very 'brave' for the often mean things they say in response to someone just having a little bit of fun.
I remember discovering Erma Bombeck. She had this hilarious description of her three kids and how they did the dishes. It really rang true for me. One avoided certain dishes by putting them 'to soak' overnight, one put away a salad bowl even if it had one piece of lettuce in it to avoid washing it, and...I can't remember the other one. I laughed so hard!

Unknown said...

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