Comedy Is Hard

by John Holbo on August 23, 2008

From Powerline: “Being consumed by hate is damaging to your sense of humor.” Well, I have to admit it. I didn’t get the joke myself. Go ahead and read hindrocket’s original post and his somewhat petulant (so it seems to me) update.

I’m trying to figure out the joke’s nub or ‘cracker’ (I’m using humor lingo here!), the necktie-house analogy – which the author now claims was obviously supposed to poke fun at “how weird it seems, to us non-rich people, for someone not to know off the top of his head how many houses he owns” – can simultaneously obviously function by poking fun at the very idea that it seems weird not to know off the top of your head how many houses you own. This is some superfine complex irony conservative minds can parse with ease, which is lost on the plain people of liberalism, e.g. me.

But seriously, folks. I can at least analyze what properties the joke must have, even if I don’t get it: it is some sort of superpositional quantum irony, which depends for its appreciation on a given proposition P – in this case, P = it’s weird not to know how many houses you have – being self-evidently true and absurd at the same time. This superposition can only be maintained so long as the joke is unobserved (except by its author, who does not count as conscious – otherwise why would he have written such a thing?) Once conscious observers, e.g. liberals, took a look-in to see what was going on, the superpositional irony was bound to collapse into a state of grievance. And bob’s your uncle.

I have been obliged to invent a new blog category to cover this circumstance. I apologize for the complication this entails, but the universe is a rich, strange place.

UPDATE: Hey, categories aren’t showing any more, are they? (Am I missing something? Kieran?) Anyway, the category was supposed to be: ‘the water pitcher is both broken and unbroken.’ Get the picture?