Dhanurdhara Swami May 30th, 2016
What Makes Something Funny?
During my research for a talk on What Makes Something Funny, which was meant to follow a performance by the B.Centered Comedy group, I was surprised that every great philosopher from Aristotle to Kant had a theory on comedy. I read through one thinker after the next trying to understand “what makes something funny?” but I found the most profound theory espoused by none other than Groucho Marx who succinctly said:
“Humor is reason gone mad.”
It may be funny that Marx trumps Schopenhauer, but it seemed to make the most sense, as it was similar to a theory of comedy I had espoused many years before based on the Bhagavad-gītā (http://wavesofdevotion.com/2001/01/13/calcuttamayapur-met-kaustubha-jai-nitai/)
I posited that everything in this world serves the purpose of the world, which is liberation. As the Gītā says, when you are forced to act helplessly according to the modes of nature you are a fool. I surmised that comedy is a parody of that. On the other hand, if you describe someone who acts very thoughtfully, it is not funny, but sobering. I thus theorized that humor discourages conditioning by laughing at it. And now 15 years after writing my thesis on what makes something funny, while studying the theories of all major philosophers on the theory, ironically I am convinced of the validity of my theory—that humor is part of the Absolute Reality meant to discourage our folly—by the insights of Marx (not Karl):
Humor is Reason Gone Mad!
- Monday Morning Greetings