Is That a Chicken Joke?
I remember when comedy was easy, not much thinking involved. You heard a joke and you laughed. You knew you were going to laugh at a joke because the person telling it had a funny name. Henny, Miltie, Groucho, Flip, Rodney, Shecky, there’s a long list of old comedians with amusing names. Most of the time you knew what the comic was going to say before he said it. The jokes were old but that didn’t matter because it enabled you to prepare yourself ahead of time by taking a deep breath and letting go with a large guffaw when the punch line came. It was “Take my wife please” (still not sure what’s funny about that), and “I shot an elephant in my pajamas, how he got there I’ll never know”. Lame you say? Yeah, but Groucho made it funny.
There wasn’t very much political humor on TV when comedy was easy. No one would dare make jokes about General Eisenhower when he ran for president. Not much of a sense of humor there. He never really even smiled much as I remember. Of course he had a lot on his plate with the war and all. Now we make fun of everything and everyone, nothing is sacred. Yes, we even make fun of the Catholic Church, and the Pope. Tampons? The fun never ends. When did comedy become so complicated? I think it all started with “Laugh In” a TV show that sprung up and became very popular in the 60’s. The Smothers Brothers started the political humor on that show. People pretended to understand it because it was the “in” thing and it was so outrageous for the time. The TV censors added fuel to the fire by trying to put a stop to the brother’s brazenness. They eventually did but it led to what we have today, complete irreverence for all authority. Immediately following “Laugh In” along came “Monty Pythons Flying Circus”. The British needed to get their irreverent humor somewhere and the Monty Python crew provided it for them. In many ways the Flying Circus guys took it a step further.
Some of the mockery is very funny. Today’s comics have perfected their craft. Where there were once only a few good comedians we now have hundreds with all different levels of funny. Not too many guffaws anymore but a lot of derisive chuckles. I guess finding out why the chicken crossed the road isn’t as funny as it once was. Comedy isn’t easy any more.
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