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Thursday, October 24, 2002

One of my co-workers asks "Why do monkeys always get laughs?"

I think it's because we see some of ourselves in monkeys.
1. If they "act natural," it's funny because we see beings much like ourselves acting in a way we wouldn't think to with people observing. It's not as funny when humans do that, especially when they know they're being watched.
2. If they are depicted as engaging in "human" behavior, again, there's a novelty aspect to it. It also provides a mirror into what animals might be thinking when they see human activity.
3. Either way, the "bodily function" factor can come into play. Since there's a taboo (milder now) against discussing bodily functions in public, it's a rich mine of humor - though it also serves as the unfunny comic's last refuge for cheap laughs.

Any way you slice it, monkeys are pure comedy gold. Other examples of comedy gold:

Foul-mouthed puppets. The juxtaposition of adult language with something associated with children is probably what does it. It's why "Greg The Bunny" worked for me. Or sweet old ladies getting a shock out of acting in totally unexpected ways, such as the jive-speaking old woman in "Airplane" or Betty White in "Lake Placid."

Cats and aquariums. This includes all of the following: cats clawing at aquarium glass; cats reaching into aquariums to grab fish; cats falling into aquariums; and cats clawing at computer screenswith aquarium-themed screen savers.

Overwrought and/or clumsy declarations of love found in song lyrics, especially if the song is by a metal band.

"Whipped" men, whether married or not. Whenever Bill Simmons discusses someone who should be wearing a Doug Christie jersey, that's automatically funny.

Similarly, gay male couples having arguments are inherently funny if you're not involved. Even the most ordinarily masculine gay men sound like they lack a Y chromosome when they argue with their significant other. Comedy gold.

I'm sure there's more, but, well, I have work to do. :)


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