Quiet Desperation

‘Knock-knock.’ ‘Who’s there?’ ‘A dissection of types of humor.’


Say “Knock-knock.”

“Who’s there?”

I’ll get to that.

If someone were to ask you if you have a sense of humor, would you be able to give an objective answer?

Everyone thinks they have a sense of humor, but they don’t. The ability to amuse someone else, however, is a rare and wonderful thing.

I was never the class clown. I could never do stand-up. I have never been to a comedy club. I avoid situation comedies, and 40-year-old virgin jokes.

Humor comes in many forms. Think about it: There’s anecdotal, blue, droll, dry, epigrammatic, farcical, hyperbolic, physical, slapstick and sophomoric for starters.

Some humor is clever, and some humor is crude. I prefer clever.

Crude humor — locker room humor — did the trick when I was 8 or 9, because I’d hear words I wasn’t supposed to use.

By now, there aren’t many words or word combinations I haven’t heard. Over and over.

George Carlin’s “dirty” words have become commonplace. When that happens, their ability to cause a reaction is greatly reduced.

Recently I was asked to talk about my sense of humor in front of a roomful of strangers, all men.

Did it make a difference that it wasn’t a coed audience?

No. I am not interested in gender humor, although that’s hot right now. It’s always fun and funny to put down the opposite sex. Or is it?

Apparently, because it fills comedy clubs.

I haven’t watched what are called “sitcoms” since I was in high school. Some, granted, have their moments. But almost all of them are formulaic, contrived and manipulative, and purport that there’s a joke in every third comment.

Followed by canned laughter.

I provided the men with a history of the laugh track, the most heinous device that was ever invented.

There is nothing — nothing — more condescending than a laugh track.

Here’s a snippet of my talk.

At first, they tried “Hogan’s Heroes” with and without a laugh track, to determine which audiences preferred. Guess what?

It was decided that the show’s humor was “too cerebral” to stand alone without a laugh track.

“Hogan’s Heroes” cerebral? It was a bilious trough of predictability, aiming low, and succeeding. It ran for 168 episodes, so what do I know?

Is there any such thing as universal humor, that someone anywhere in the world would laugh about, across age and gender and racial and language differences?

The only thing I could come up with was slapstick humor. In other words, humor without words, like silent films. When Chaplin slipped around it didn’t matter if he was a man or a woman or where he came from (London, United Kingdom).

Watching someone fall down always gets a laugh.

Stepping off an airplane, President Gerald Ford fell down the stairs, and he was, thereafter, typecast as an oaf. Which wasn’t true. (He was a football star at Michigan.)

Our fallibility is laughable, unless it’s you on the stairs.

If you were to see Wolf Blitzer slip and fall, would you be able to suppress a smile?

Probably not.

Say “Knock-knock.”


“The little old lady.”

“The little old lady who?”

“I didn’t know you could yodel.”

But all seriousness aside.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.