HUMOR INCORPORATED

Humor must both teach and preach if it would live forever; by forever, I mean 30 years.
–Mark Twain

If Webster’s definition of humor as the “quality of imagination quick to perceive the ludicrous or express itself in an amusing way” is on the mark, Twain underestimated the staying power of his humor by nigh onto 100 years (and counting). But “staying” is just one of humor’s possible powers, and because (as Lord Acton famously observed) power tends to corrupt, humor cannot absolutely avoid Acton’s axiom.

My musing on this subject is occasioned by April being National Humor Month — so proclaimed in 1976 by Larry Wilde, Founder/Director of The Carmel Institute of Humor: http://www.larrywilde.com/

As you might expect, The Carmel Institute of Humor is not without serious competition. A similar entity I’ve come across is The Humor Project, Inc., founded by Joel Goodman in 1977 “as the first organization in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor” — a claim that suggests a merger of Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” with funny business. And, from such appealing funny businesses as Goodman’s, have big businesses grown (judging by their “power” promotions): https://www.humorproject.com/

Now, far be it from me to regard the corporatizing of humor as a phony business — hey, there are worse things to make of humor than a commodity, and worse ways to earn a buck than to commercialize the process. But, purist that I am, I see making humor in the same light as making love: much to be preferred on a human level than as an industry (the virtues of consumer capitalism notwithstanding). Nonetheless, I’m not so doctrinaire as to deny either humor or sex to potential customers when free(?) enterprise comes a-courting.

Unlike Larry Wilde and Joel Goodman, mistermuse does not have a Speaker’s Bureau, a three-day Annual Conference (discounted fee for early registration), a five-point humor program, seminars or workshops. But mistermuse does offer an every-five-days discourse on subjects of interest (his, if not yours) — usually with tongue in cheek, and never with hat in hand. Dis course today concludes with ten humorous quotes, which come with a funny-back guarantee if he doesn’t think they’re priceless:

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.Oscar Wilde (not to be confused with Larry – or Curly or Moe, for that matter)
Conference: a meeting held to decide when the next meeting will take place. –Evan Esar
You can’t study comedy; it’s within you. –Don Rickles (the Donald Trump of insult-comics)
Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. –W.C. Fields
Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else. –Will Rogers
Culture is roughly anything we do and monkeys don’t. –Lord Raglan
In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap. –Napoleon Bonesapart (I’ve been waiting a long time for the opportunity to butcher that name)
Politicians do more funny things naturally than I can think of doing purposely. –Will Rogers
Humor is just another defense against the universe. –Mel Brooks
Wit – the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out. –Ambrose Bierce

Over, and out.

 

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15 comments on “HUMOR INCORPORATED

  1. Why do some people have to ruin the best things in life by turning them into a National Month or an institution/organization of some sort? I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and being partial to the more sardonic (sarcastic? satirical?) edges of humor, was glad to see some of my favorites featured…Oscar Wilde, W.C. Fields, Ambrose Bierce, and of course, Mark Twain.
    On the distaff side, one of my favorites is Dorothy Parker. I offer this bon mot of hers when she was hanging out with her fellow wits challenging each other to compose a funny sentence using the word “horticulture”….Parker’s contribution was: “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mistermuse says:

    I love Dorothy Parker’s wit and probably should have included a Parker quote, but I’d set myself a limit of ten and liked the ten I’d chosen (plus, I think I already used that great quote before, though it certainly would’ve fit well here, and I thank you for offering it).

    To me, the quote that surprised me the most (in that I didn’t expect such profundity from the likes of Mel Brooks – what’s more, in so few words) was his “Humor is just another defense against the universe.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the Rickles quote. Well, I like all of them, but that one has always struck me as true. I would love to be funny, but just don’t have the gene. Fortunately, we don’t have to be funny ourselves to enjoy good wit and a belly laugh 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. arekhill1 says:

    Humor is what separates humans from animals. That, and making tools. And not being afraid of vacuum cleaners.

    Like

  5. mistermuse says:

    Share and share a like, I always say. 🙂

    Like

  6. One good belly laugh extends human life by one year ( My daughter the nurse .)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Todd Duffey Writes on Things says:

    Why do witticisms always come from people at least two generations before ours? Those people were way ahead of their time…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mistermuse says:

    As one of those people born more than two generations before this one, I thank you for the tribute. 🙂 Seriously, though, I think there still are such people – they just don’t get the recognition they did in the days before mass instant gratification “re-conditioned” us and became the norm. Wit demands at least a bit of reflection. Who does that anymore?

    Like

  9. Don Frankel says:

    “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Mark Twain. My hero.

    Like

  10. mistermuse says:

    Don, I would stand corrected if I didn’t happen to agree (well, except for politicians – they’ve been withstanding the assault of laughter since most of them evolved from baboons).

    Like

  11. Don Frankel says:

    No Muse you’re right. Laughing at elected officials is actually a healthy sign of a society and poking fun is a good thing too. But when they are cooked and ushered off the stage laughter is the last thing they hear. Think Anthony Weiner here and Nixon too.

    Like

  12. mistermuse says:

    Good point, Don. We in the West take our freedom to laugh at politicians for granted. Any North Korean who dared so much as think about laughing at President Kim Jung-un wouldn’t live to think again.

    Like

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