Monday, October 03, 2005

Funny Folk

I’m sitting across from Andrew at Starbucks. He asks me a question, and I respond in earnest. A very amused smile spreads across his face. A disconcerting smile.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” I demand.

“You’re a Funny Person, Nadine. A real ‘hoot’”

Funny Person. A title to which every young woman aspires.

“What do you mean Funny Person? Do you mean like ‘haha’ funny?”

I come from a family that speaks in euphemisms:

Fat = ‘Cute’
Stupid = ‘Kind’
Drunk = ‘Happy’
Mega Evil Bitch = ‘Mildly Moody Woman’

“Funny” is the place holder for many undesirably qualities:

He’s a big-time perv = ‘he’s Funny’
There is penicillin growing on that odious cheese = ‘it has gone Funny’
He farts like a pig = ‘His stomach is a bit Funny’

I immediately get my back up the second I think someone is euphemising me.

“Nadine, you are funny in Every Way,” Andrew answers.


I’m no comedienne. Yet, I have often had this title of Funny Person applied to me.

I think that many of my friends, unfamiliar with the neuroses stereotypically characteristic of Women of the Tribe, mistake my baseline disposition for an expression of intentional comedy.

My friend, HoneyBunny, certainly made this mistake. Convinced that I was actually a ‘haha’ Funny Person, she and her boyfriend asked me to give the speech at her 21st birthday party.

The funny thing about HoneyBunny was that there was absolutely nothing funny about her. I tried to recall a funny story about her. I came up completely empty.

HoneyBunny is the most horrifically normal person I have ever met. No weird quirks. No drunken foolery. No lapses in judgment. No obsessive tendencies. She was a good student. She respected her parents. She never littered.

I therefore did the only thing I could do in that situation. I wrote a very sappy and comatosely boring speech: “Top 10 things I like about HoneyBunny.” I wonder what boring speech writers did for material before David Letterman?

At the conclusion of my speech, HoneyBunny came across the dance floor towards me, with a palpable look of disappointment on her face, to give me a hug. She whispered in my ear:

“Thanks. But you weren’t really funny, were you?”

I recently completed an unofficial internet poll:

Approximately 80% of MSN Chatters prefer “lol” to “ha.”

But nearly 100% of MSN Chatters use either “lol” or “ha” once or more in a typical MSN chat.

Next I spoke to a bunch of MSN Chatters by telephone.

Less than 40% either laughed out loud or audibly “haha-ed” during our live conversation.

This leads me to the conclusion that either people are way funnier by MSN, or else people like the idea of laughing, or want others to think they are laughing, but don’t actually engage in much physical laughing themselves.

I’m inclined to believe it is the latter. People like the idea of laughing. People who laugh are fun to be around. They keep things light.

But not always.

I went to a book talk by Thomas King, who was born to a mother of Greek/German descent and to a Cherokee father. His books often touch on difficult issues surrounding Aboriginal culture and Native Rights. Plus, his books are freakin’ hilarious.

When asked about his use of comedy, he explained that being funny allowed him to be highly critical of white society but in a form that is palatable to his white audience. He also felt that the benefit of dishing up social critique in this comedic form was that the message tended to stick around longer with its recipient.

He said what depresses him most about being a Funny Person is that a sad number of readers don’t realize that his comedies are actually tragedies.

I know a tragic Funny Person. He uses comedy as a self-defense mechanism. He shields himself in a cloak of sarcasm that repels any serious or difficult issue in his vicinity.

He is very sad to be around.

So I take stock of all the types of Funny People I could be:

HaHa Funny
LOL Funny
Tragic Funny
Weird Funny
Neurotic Funny
Rotten Funny
Pervert Funny

I decide that I disagree with Andrew. I’m not funny in Every Way.

I consider the fact that Andrew, a 27-year-old, has told me: “you are a real ‘hoot,’” and “I get a ‘kick’ out of you.”

I decide to add another Funny to my list:

Anachronism Funny.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

too funny.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...


You have misunderstood how I meant you to be funny in every way. I do not mean that your funniness spans all the different types of funny that you list; you are certainly not anachronism, pervert, rotten, wierd or tragic funny. Rather, I meant that all of you (actions, thoughts, choices, opinions, statements etc.) is funny, though usually only LOL funny, HaHa funny and/or neurotic funny (the latter more rarely, least consciously and always most amusingly). These are wonderful traits you should embrace. I will also take the opportunity to mention that although mildly moody, you are the cutest, kindest, happiest person I have ever met. Ever. In the whole world. Ever.

As far as my being anachronism funny, your Honour, I plead guilty. Sometimes I commit anachronism funny deliberately, sometimes inadvertently, but always funnily and that's what counts.


P.S. My birthday was August 18th. I am now 28 years old.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having known you for more years I want to admit are certainly one of my funniest friends...and for sure one of the most interesting ones. I guess you're often funny without trying...not with jokes, but just by being you. Sorry for being mushy...guess I just ate too much!


7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nadine - it's scott. i've no other idea of how to get in touch with you. our meeting tomorrow has been pushed back to Tuesday @ 11h00 ... so, no need to rush on all that reading :)

6:54 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Lol depresses me. I rarely chat, but when I do, I can tell lame knock-knock jokes and get an lol reply. I know the other party is being polite, and I appreciate that, but I can't bare the disconnect between the robotic typing of L-O-L and the passionate, real-life act of actualling laughing out loud. I fear I will one day wind up in a chat like this:

ME: so, last night I went out to to eat with a friend, and when I got to the restaurant, I realized I left my wallet at home.

Other person (bored): LOL.

ME: and it was supposed to be my treat, so I didn't know what to do.

OP (thinking of dead mother): LOL.

ME: I excused myself and went to the bathroom to give myself time to think.

OP (tears streaming down face): LOL.

ME: But I couldn't come up with anything.

OP (grabbing kitchen knife): LOL.

ME: So I just went back to the table and fessed up, and it really sucked because my friend had paid for the last three dinners.

OP (slits wrist, blood spills all over keyboard): LO';l

ME: And it was really embarrassing, because this was the most expensive restaurant in town.

OP: L [dies.]


ME: Hello? Hello?

I also worry that the LOL phenomenon will spill over into other areas of discourse. Maybe next time I have sex, my partner will stare into the distance and, looking bored, mumber, "OYBTFG" (Oh yeah, baby! That feels Good!)


PS. Thanks for leaving a nice comment on my blog.

4:10 PM  

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