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My goal today, is to make you smile, like the fellow in this painting:
For whatever reason, I was curious what Wikipedia had to say about “humor.” I found this painting, with the caption, “smiling can imply a sense of humour and a state of amusement, as in this painting of Falstaff by Eduard von Grutzner." Inexplicably, my funny bone was struck, perhaps, because wiki tried to explain humor through a goofy painting?
It seems humor is difficult to traditionally define; we are able only by describing its reactions: smiling, laughing, amusement. It’s hard to say what we each find funny. I know my sense of humor is far different from some of my friends, but my sister and I are spot on. We learn our sense of humor from others, and then, simultaneously, we are amused by something no one else understands. This is intimidating for writers, because, what’s funny then? I figure, we just write what amuses us and write it well. If there is one rule for writers, it’s to own your work, something that seems especially necessary in humorous writing.
Below are a few different poets who exemplify humor in some way -- I figure it’s better not to overanalyze them. Some things I suggest thinking about while listening are delivery, topic, irony, absurdity, understatement, and back story. Enjoy!
Jon Anderson’s “Untitled” & “On A Rainy Night, Our Ape In Scarsdale, NY Returns A Library Book”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Underwear”
John T. Price’s “Man Killed By Pheasant”
Sherman Alexie’s “Someone Kept Saying Powwow
Jeannie Wood is a junior at the University of Arizona studying poetry, astronomy, and Latin. She’s from Northern Arizona and spends her time writing for the Daily Wildcat, playing rough with UA’s Derby Cats, and biking. She enjoys disappearing into different areas of the state, and parts of California, on weekends.