Two Great Comedies

A few days ago I wrote about tragedy and tried to develop and explain my ideas relating to a few things about that, and that got me thinking about comedy. My thoughts on this are far less developed and this will be even less eloquent. Indeed, while I have thought quite a fair bit on tragedy, comedy has not been something I have considered nearly as in depth. Even so, comedy and tragedy are supposed to be opposites or at the very least opposing forces, so one who knows about one should in theory know about the other.

If the tragedies in life are “not getting what you want” and “getting what you want,” then should comedies not be “getting what you want” and “not getting what you want?” Well if that is the case then it does not seem like the two are any different at all. One might think then perhaps comedy then is not wanting anything, but we know that is not funny, that is just nothing which can be tragic; likewise wanting and having everything is just being God which seems equally as boring as being nothing, why else would God need to screw with us all the time if not to entertain himself?

Indeed, the distinction between what comedy is and the nature of tragedy is a very small border. One experiment (albeit one with a great potential for error) found that the following was considered to be the funniest joke in the world:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other man pulls out his cell phone and calls emergency services. He gasps to the operator, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator in a calm, soothing voice replies, “Take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard.

Back on the phone, the hunter says, “OK, now what?”

This is considered to be funny, a man shooting his friend who may possibly have been still alive. There are many theories for why something is funny. One is that it has an unexpected twist. In this joke, you are not expecting the man interpret the instruction in this manner, but there are many jokes that are told again and again and people still consider them funny even after knowing how they will end. Tragedy works the same way. It is very tragic for a person to die young unexpectedly, but it is also tragic knowing that you will slowly wither away with age eventually no matter what.

The things we laugh at are almost indistinguishable from the things we despair about. Some say that it is the addition of time to tragedy that makes comedy, others say that we laugh because it is not us. Both of these things distance us from the events taking place. Another thing about comedies is that they can feature characters getting what they do not such as injury. Could not getting what you do not want also be comedy? It seems like it cannot be as that is just too vague for anything.

If accomplishing your goals is tragedy, than is somebody that is not you accomplishing their goals comedy? I cannot personally think of any good jokes about somebody who gets everything they desire and then losing all purpose, but there must exist some potential. Even so, I would say that the two great comedies are more of along the lines of “somebody getting what they do not want” and “somebody wanting something they do not get.”

Having laid out all of these thoughts about comedy, I will now attempt to write my own joke:

“A man decides he will go out on a journey seeking the meaning of life and he will not return until he has found it. He returns the next day.”

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