Can a writer be a composer? Is it conceivable a computer has the same kind of abilities? We think of biology as the ultimate high IQ machine, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. This post is based on the ideas of my colleague Alex Graves. Read more
We’ve heard a fair number of suggestions regarding the importance of having a good sense of humor. While that may be true, they often don’t apply to certain kinds of humor or the kinds of jokes that tend to be funny in certain eras. For instance, the notion that one can’t be funny in today’s era is ridiculous. The fact that many comedians today will use a different joke about the same subject within the same set can be a source of amusement and enjoyment for that audience member and can provide some laughs. Yet it is important not to put too much stock in any one type of humor or in any particular period of time.
Humor in the early 1900s
We’ve heard the notion of humor in the early 1900’s as well. Many of the earliest jokes about the 19th century in America were jokes about the 19th century. We hear jokes about Victorian times like “My Grandmother’s a Whore” and the “Rape of the Lock” about a woman being raped by a lock. There are also stories about other times and other times periods of American history where there were jokes about people or things that never existed. For instance, the 19th century’s famous phrase, “Give me your tired, your poor, and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is an oft cited statement in jokes about the era. It is not actually a quote from President Wilson, but a humorous reference to the general sentiment about the American population in the early 19th century. Other examples are the famous “Hail Columbia” phrase, and the humorous reference to “old farts” in a popular humor paper. One thing you will find among these various examples is that humor of that era can still be found today. Many classic and modern examples of humor were written by people who were writing when times were very different than they are now.
Joke vs. history
There is no question that humor in our culture tends to be a blend of past and present. While humor is indeed often based on past events, there are also many instances of humor being used in the present or in the past that we find funny. For example, a joke is almost always based on events that had occurred in the past. It
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