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Killer Comedy book. Read reviews from world's largest community for readers. Standup comic Lonnie Lester, with his shaved head and goatee, presents a men.
Table of contents

Freeze my Margarita and Black Rubber Dress. So darkly funny! There's an old principle underpinning humor that goes back to Kant and even Aristotle two famous comics : incongruity. I don't like the word much because it's too coarse to carry much explanatory punch—there is just too much congruous humor and unfunny incongruity out there. I prefer the image of two clashing worlds. Humor usually requires a narrative that climaxes in an unexpected collision between two independent universes.

There's nothing intrinsically funny about a pair of colliding worlds, so humor assigns specific roles to them. Often first on the scene, world A is characteristically dreamy, cartoonish, fantastic, playful, fanciful, expectative, and ruled by its own idealized laws. World B, on the other hand, is the dull backwater of common sense, physical law, submission to order, determinism, logic, immutability, or perhaps even sheer, dreary survivability. Note that humor is always human: a landscape is never funny.

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World B is under the iron rule of a nonnegotiable force: logic, physics, shame, etc. Although the force is unassailable, it is often socially desirable. Note that this classification exempts humor based on wordplay, puzzles, or misunderstandings, all types in which this essay is not particularly interested, anyway.

Why does your heart need a dose of novocaine? Because humor must knock down empathy in order to kill fantasy. For an illustration of this in cartoon comedy, try this one:. With suitable bedside manner getting compassion out of the way, fantasy is next on the chopping block: the target is the loony idea that to cure a terminal disease one should run around the block like a madman to save pennies for the cause.

The unassailable forces are biology and realism. There's more to the joke but that will do. World B is stealthy and its governing law self-evident. This is necessary because it usually appears only in the punch line and, therefore, must require no introduction. It's hard to crack a racial joke if the audience is still unsure whether racism is a bad thing.

This is true whether the joke is racist or anti-racist. Most comedy is based on denied anticipation. To make world B a crash site and deny the audience's expectation of a soft landing, comedy, being contextual, must rely on an unspoken code. This is necessary because a joke can be told or explained but not both. Ingredients of surprise and suddenness are key to a successful crash.

Peremptory claims look more impressive unencumbered by evidence. They're not nearly as persuasive, however, so let me try to argue my case. Grown-up humor feeds so voraciously at the trough of morality more on this complex relationship below that it is best to begin with children's jokes, if only to appreciate why humor is, fundamentally, the extinction of fantasy.

Wildlife conservation no laughing matter in Comedy Wildlife Photographer awards

Tell a 2-year old that in your house there is a polar bear who sleeps in the fridge world A. She'll open her eyes big and wide and go "Wow! No joke! World B does not stand a chance.

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Now try your polar bear story on Charlotte, who's 4. No "Wow" from her. Unlike her younger sister, Charlotte will laugh out loud. Ask her and she'll say: "A polar bear is too big to sleep in the fridge. No world B victory, no laugh. Does that mean Virginia didn't perceive the same clash? She did. But, swayed by the storyteller's talents of persuasion, she decided on a different outcome: fantasy beat reality. World A won.


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For Virginia, fantasy is no laughing matter. It's a little scary, in fact. Who are you to be bending the laws of physics and squeeze bears into refrigerators? Things get tricky with the grown-ups. So let's begin with the granddaddy of comic scenes. An Olympic marathon runner slips on a banana peel right at the starting line.

Not so funny if he's a paralympics contestant who falls off his wheelchair at the start of the race at least not until transgressive reflexivity has taught us it's all right to laugh, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's still pretty cruel, though, to laugh at a runner who falls flat on his face. But with the proper emotional detachment boosted by the right narrative—say, the marathoner is an arrogant stiff—it becomes easier to loosen one's moral shackles and laugh.

The banana's cult status in comedy also helps perhaps the sole exception to the rule that objects can't be funny.

The condition of women in Turkey is no laughing matter

Suitable for young adults. Miko, son of the chief, encounters the force known as the Soul Eater, and he learns about its nature, and finds that he and his father must stand against them and learn the rules of mortality.

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The Legend of the Soul Eater is riveting fantasy of pre-colonial America, a strong pick for those looking for something different. But with one major difference: The Reelfoot creature is half-human, a merman who has been on an obsessive search for his birth mother that has lasted more than years. At the heart of the story are three former college roommates, two male, one female, who all have childhood and relationship issues that dominate their lives.

The roommates converge at Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, where the creature is inflicting a reign of terror that makes it difficult for two of the ex-roommates to locate a treasure that has been buried since the New Madrid earthquake of Imagine falling in love with someone who is the person of your dreams, only to meet a second person who also is the person of your dreams. Do you break off one of the relationships? Or do you continue both? Jack continued both relationships at the insistence of both women, neither of whom wanted to risk rejection.


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Faith, who was a decade and a half younger, had a more mundane career, but she was incredibly beautiful and she forged a powerful bond with Jack after he helped her come to terms with her childhood abuse. Dickerson, who tells the story of Jack, a man who thought he found the one with Lori. Two Women, One Man is a strong pick for those seeking a work of romance, highly recommended.

Bernie: hilariously funny but no laughing matter

Next target? New Orleans. A year-old woman turns to a Memphis psychologist for help after she concludes that someone is trying to kill her. Then the unthinkable happens. The psychologist is marked for murder.