ARE THERE RULES FOR AVOIDING “BAD” HUMOR?

 (AKA “Vajayjays” Are Funny, But…)

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by Joe Buonfiglio

As I gathered my thoughts for this week’s blog-post, I was sidetracked by yet another assault against both my character and my approach to the literary craft.  On Facebook, I was once again accused of using “bad” words coupled with “bad” subject matter resulting in “bad” humor.  Confronted with the whole “Why do you have to work ‘blue’?” and “That’s a rape joke; you can’t do a rape joke,” and “Something’s wrong with you; you need to get help” things; I’m now forced to risk sounding as if a broken record and delve into this topic once more.  I’ll try not to go on my usual ranting diatribe this time — even though this is a “hot button” issue for me — but I make no promises.  I’ve gotten into my survivalist stash of 25-year-old chocolate Twinkies and the sugar rush is noticeably altering my brain chemistry.

So here is the recent post that, for some reason, unleashed the proverbial firestorm of disdain on my “normie,” private Facebook page:

“Why is it that when I post or text ‘OMG,’ I feel like a drunk Valley girl about to pass out on the frat-house lawn and half the football team is circled up with their pants down around their ankles.”

HO-LY SHIT.  Judging by the response, you would think I was a minion of Satan out from Hell on a day-pass to conjure up acid rain on preschool playgrounds.  Thank God most of the outcry was in the form of Facebook’s “private” messaging and email, or the FB-Police might have swooped in and shut down my account.  It was a joke; just a joke.  I didn’t streak naked through the gates of Buckingham Palace and give the queen a tittie-twister during her Jubilee celebration.

Yes, the problem seems to be that a number of folks took it as a rape joke … which I suppose it kind of — sort of — yeah, technically is … and boy, were they pissed.  I’m talkin’ “buying a used car ‘as is’ and having it die as soon as you drive it off the lot in a thunderstorm” pissed.

So, I took the version I tweeted — which NOT ONE person on Twitter had anything negative to say about it — and put that up on my private Facebook page just like this:

“Okay, I took a lot of offline heat right out of the gate for that last post. Try this version from my Twitter page: ‘When I post or text “OMG,” I feel like a drunk Valley girl passing out on the frat-house lawn while my underwear is being used as a koozie.’

 Better? … … … No? … … … There’s no pleasing you people.”

Not only was this not viewed in a more kind light, it actually exacerbated the situation.  I believe one of these good folks of polite society actually used the phrase “inconsiderate prick” in describing my endeavor at corrective measures.

Thus, this FB-post immediately followed:

“EXPERIMENT.  (Come on.  I’m being serious.  Participate.)  What subject matter/topics are OFF LIMITS to you when it comes to humor? Don’t just list one or two. I want all my Facebook friends to comment on EVERY topic/subject they consider non-negotiable in ANY context as a joke. Please be sincere and serious.  Okay, go…”

Based on the results of this Facebook inquiry and a comparable one I tweeted, here are the…

RULES FOR AVOIDING “BAD” HUMOR

#1) NEVER joke about school shootings.  (That was the #1 DON’T on the list.);

#2) NEVER use rape or the insinuation of potential rape in humor;

#3) Incest jokes are off the table;

#4) Cancer?  Cancer is also a no-no … UNLESS, apparently, it is “done right.”  Personally, I find this opinion even stranger than an armless barber on “half-price for kids” Wednesday.  Can you “do” cancer “right”?  It’s not like KFC doing chicken right.  “Hi.  Here at Grim Reaper’s, we do cancer right!”  I’m having problems wrapping my mind around that collective response; but the will of the people wants what the will of the people wants.

#5) Don’t screw around when it comes to Jesus.  Unless you want to start a War on Christmas you can’t win, just shut the fuck up about the Son of God;

#6) The poor / the homeless.  Apparently, it doesn’t matter that I’ve served meals in homeless shelters; if I make light of street people, I should be executed Gingham style.

#7) Cannibalism? … NO!  Well, to clarify: NO … unless the audience has been drinking.  Then use the topic at your own risk; but NEVER talk about eating the naughty bits.

#8) Abortion? … NO!  Just no.  Don’t.  Ever.

#9) Human body parts?  (AKA “privates”)  It depends.  “Vajayjay” is apparently hilarious to just about everyone.  “Vagina” can work as funny.  “Pussy” is pushing it.  “Cunt” is absolutely out of the question … except in the rare cases of proper context and ONLY if done in a legitimate British accent.  Saying “C-Word” may sometimes be substituted (as with a white guy using the phrase “N-Word”).  “Penis” works in the right joke.  Absolutely no problem with “Willy” or “Johnson” or “John Thomas.” (As a matter of fact, they’re encouraged.)  “Dick” is pushing it.  “Prick” has a tendency to make many folks’ skin crawl.  “Cock” (especially a big, throbbing one administered soon after the phrase “pizza delivery” is uttered) will not be tolerated.  “Breasts” are okay (unless cancer is involved).  “Hooters” is pushing it.  (And don’t try that “I only like it for the great chicken wings” bullshit.  That’s worse than reading Playboy for the “great articles.”)  ”Titties” can be funny if approached lightly UNLESS said like “Ti-Taaaays.”  That’s dangerous.  Some audiences love it; some find it disrespectful.  “Ass”?  Possibly.  Maybe.  One first needs to take a read of the audience.  “Asshole”?  Nope, not unless YOU are metaphorically an asshole labeling yourself with the nomenclature of “asshole.”  Such self-deprecation may … MAY … be deemed acceptable, but the jury is still out.  “Testicles”? … Yes.  “Balls”? … Strangely, no problem there.  “Scrotum”?  If used to make a scientific reference relevant to the punch line, you can sometimes get away with it.  “Ball-sack”?  No way.  Are you kidding?  That’s hitting it out of the ballpark of acceptability before even getting your first cold beer and stadium-dog.

#10) Things that come out of the body: piss, urine, shit, cum, jizz, etc .  You can get away with it UNLESS you intend to get yours on someone else.  That crosses the line.  Whoops, wait a minute.  Hold on.  Actually, “shit” is off the list … and “cum” … and “jizz” … and, quite frankly, even “piss” didn’t make the cut.  But “farts” or “flatulence”?  Go ahead; knock yourself out.

#11) Fuck?  NO!  NO-NO-NO-NEVER!  As a matter of fact, FUCK NO!  (You can say “F-Bomb” — as in “dropping the F-Bomb” — but that’s it.)

#12) Prostitute?  Yeah.  Maybe.  Context is important.  Whore?  NO!  Whore with a New Jersey accent (who-were)?  Fuck no!  Strippers?  Yes, if you must; but best avoided.

#13) Sex acts?  “Humping”?  Yes.  “Banging”?  Okay, if there is no alternative available.  “Fucking”?  Again, NO FUCKING WAY!  Dirty Sanchez?  Teabagging?  Are you nuts?!  “Reach-around”?  Yes.  “Jerking off”?  No.  “Circle jerk?”  You need to seek help.

#14) Suicide?  Nah, not really.

#15) Hitler?  NEVER!

#16) Mussolini?  Absolutely.  Funny as shit.

#17) Titanic?  Sure.  Enough time has passed.

#18) Hindenburg?  Ditto.

#19) Diabetes? … Pushing it, but doable.  BUT, that leads us to…

#20) FAT PEOPLE!  In our deliciously duplicitous nation, fat jokes are always — ALWAYS — on the menu, so to speak.  As a card-carrying member of the Waistline-Challenged Society, I can testify to the fact that fat people will always be fair game.  If the hypertension-susceptible crowd doesn’t like it, they can go fuck themselves…. Except don’t actually say or print that, as “fuck” will land you in a stagnant pool of the super-heated waters of condemnation by the politically correct.  Bald guys?  Bald guys have a target painted on the back of their amusingly shiny noggins, too.  Bald women, not so much so; a lot of sympathy-vote going on there.  But if you’re a fat AND bald guy, then tough fat dude-titties to you.  You sit in the front of a comedy show at your own peril.

You see what the problem is here, right?  EVERYTHING will offend somebody at some point.  Self-censorship in humor is about as useful to craft as a dead baby in a blender.

Damn it!  I forgot the whole “dead baby” joke deal.  That’ll go over like a cross burning at an NAACP convention…. … … FUCK!  I did it again! … … … SHIT!  I wrote FUCK!

Anyway, let’s get back to the original rape-implied joke that started the whole controversy in the first place.  Here’s my follow-up post in Facebook:

“Yup, dead-baby jokes and rape jokes; they always require a mea culpa. The thing is, even though it was implied, there was no actual assault in the joke. (Listen to Sarah Silverman’s standup sometime.) Look, I’m not advocating killing babies or raping women; don’t want to carry assault rifles into a 7-11 or “stand my ground” for the pleasure of shooting someone in the face; don’t want people to be fat and diabetic; don’t want to see gays denied their rights; don’t want to see workers come to harm just because they work in the fracking industry; don’t think all Italians are greasy; don’t think the Irish are all drunks; don’t think there’s a special place in Hell for members of the Tea Party; don’t advocate having sex with barnyard animals… BUT, I will joke about it. I am certainly … CERTAINLY … not saying you have to like the joke. I am saying that you please recognize … even if you find it distasteful … that it is just a joke; and there is a difference between a pedophile telling a pedophile-priest joke or a racist telling a racial joke, and someone who’s not those things telling those jokes. Is it offensive? Depends on how sensitive you are to the subject matter. We all have our personal paradigms with their own tolerance levels. Does this joke of mine come up to the line? Absolutely. Does it cross it? I don’t think so, but I respect if you do. (Really. I get it.) Just my perspective on humor. The same First Amendment that permits Hustler to be printed permits the Bible to be printed. I tend to fall somewhere in-between… … … Okay, I do advocate having sex with barnyard animals, but you get the idea.”

One final thought before I leave the whole “bad humor” thing relegated to my rearview mirror:

Masturbation is ALWAYS funny when done by a teenager who is caught in the act by his Chinese grandfather.

I’m just sayin’.

© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio       All Rights Reserved.

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One thought on “ARE THERE RULES FOR AVOIDING “BAD” HUMOR?

  1. It was a Rumpole episode years ago and I still remember the jist of the line if not verbatim, “I may not like or even respect what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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