You Need to Laugh More

Maybe it’s because this blog just looks so black and white, so straight and hasn’t a proper title indicating what my writing style is that some of my readers don’t pick up on the fact that almost everything I say is rather tongue-in-cheek. If you know me personally, or have been around since the days of my old blog, then you’re well-acquainted with my brand of humor. I may have to change the look of this place, however, to give newcomers some idea of what’s in store for them. But here’s a pret-ty solid rule of thumb: if I’m complaining, I’m most likely embellishing the actual situation or my life in general, and things aren’t half as difficult as I make them sound. I appreciate your concern for me, but really, I’m OK.

While contemplating the general style of my personal humor, it occurred to me I might need to do a little research. Do I even know what kind of sense of humor I have? Do you know what kind you have? First of all, I ran into a lot of sites containing long lists of the different types of humor, but these weren’t about how we approach life, they were about comedy.

I’ve never been a big fan of stand up. I much prefer spontaneous humor over someone’s ability to deliver a pre-written, memorized, and well-timed anecdote or joke. There are exceptions, of course. I really love Ellen Degeneres and Billy Connolly, but nothing can make me seriously Laugh Out Loud like watching the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts on YouTube. The newer roasts aren’t funny to me in the least, because they’re so mean-spirited. There’s no sense that these newer comedians even remotely like each other whereas the older comedians’ “taking the piss” out of each other just oozes with genuine affection.

But back to defining one’s personal sense of humor. Here’s a little list, borrowed from Psychology Today and tailored to suit my purposes…

Put-Down Humor
This aggressive type of humor is used to criticize and manipulate others through teasing, sarcasm and ridicule. When it’s aimed against politicians, it can be funny and mostly harmless, but in the real world it has a sharper impact. Put-down humor, such as telling friends an embarrassing story about another friend, is a way to deploy aggression and make others look bad so you look good. When challenged on their teasing, the put-down joker often turns to the “just kidding” defense to avoid responsibility even as the barb bites. Wankers. There is no evidence that those who rely on this type of humor are any less well-adjusted, but it does take a toll on personal relationships. I don’t like put-down humor, usually, unless it’s delivered by Don Rickles, but even he can make me cringe. In the wrong hands, it’s nothing but a form of bullying.

Taking The Piss
This less aggressive type of humor is used by friends through good-natured ribbing. It actually means they like each other. Often, someone will say, “If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t tease you” or “I don’t waste my energy on people I don’t like.” I like this kind of humor as long as it isn’t hurtful or masks a secret dislike, but I don’t often practice it for fear of being misunderstood and inadvertently hurting someone.

Bonding Humor
People who use bonding humor are fun to have around. They say amusing things, tell jokes, engage in witty banter and generally lighten the mood. These are the people who give humor a good name. They’re perceived as warm, down-to-earth and kind, good at reducing the tension in uncomfortable situations and able to laugh at their own faults. Ellen DeGeneres embraces her audience by sharing good-natured, relatable humor. Her basic message is, “We’re alike, we find the same things funny, and we’re all in this together.” This is probably most like my humor than any other on this list. Nonetheless, bonding humor can have a dark side. After all, a feeling of inclusion can be made sweeter by knowing that someone else is on the outs. President John F. Kennedy and his brothers often invited a hated acquaintance to vacation with them. They’d be polite to his face, but behind his back the brothers united in deriding the hapless guest. Not my cup of tea at all. This is what I call “clique” humor, something I’ve been victim to on too many occasions to name. This, too is just bullying. You can have it.

Self-Deprecating Humor
In this style of humor, you make yourself the butt of the joke for the amusement of others. Often deployed by people who are eager to ingratiate themselves, it’s the familiar clown or “fat guy” playfulness that we loved in John Belushi and Chris Farley—both of whom suffered for their success. A small dose of it is charming, but a little goes a long way: routinely offering yourself up to be humiliated erodes your self-respect, fostering depression and anxiety. It also can backfire by making other people feel uncomfortable because it may remind others of their own tendency toward self-criticism. Farley, who died at age 33 from an overdose, had a streak of self-loathing. “Chris chose the immediate pleasure he got in pleasing others over the long-term cost to himself,” his brother wrote after his death. The bottom line: excelling at this style of humor may lead to party invitations, but it can ultimately exact a high price. There’s nothing funny about self-loathing, or laughing at someone who suffers from it.

Laughing At Life
When we admire someone who doesn’t take him or herself too seriously, this is what we’re talking about. More than just a way of relating to other people, it’s a prism that colors the world in rosier shades. Someone with this outlook deploys humor to cope with challenges, taking a step back and laughing at the absurdities of everyday life. This is my second style of humor. “If I didn’t have a sense of humor, I would have committed suicide long ago,” as the saying goes, and this kind of humor is the very foundation of my existence. If you can’t get this about me, you’re never going to get me. Sorry, but dem’s da fax.

Judging from this list, I’ve discovered that I possess a combination of Bonding Humor and Laughing At Life humor. I suppose the former might be the outcome of exercising the latter: in both the so-called real world  and on this blog, I laugh at my life in an effort to show you we’re all in this together and that we can’t take life too seriously.

Now, go thee hence and laugh at something while I try to figure out what I want to change about the look of this place!

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A Simple Plan For My Advancing Decrepitude

First of all, because most people have lost the capacity to have a sense of humor about anything, I’m making a disclaimer about this post. I am NOT condoning a life of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock & roll. Nor am I making light of the death of any celebrity, nor am I showing any disrespect to anyone who’s still around, because I love the people I’m writing about. It’s just a freaking blog post. Lighten up.

That being said…

I’ve been thinking lately that I’m going to start keeping my eyes on two people as signs of how I should spend the final years of my life. Whichever one outlives the other will tell me what I need to know about the validity of healthy living.

Here’s Ringo Starr, who will turn 77 next July. Damn, he looks good! That trim, tight little body looks better than it did back in the heyday of the Sixties! I’ve always adored Ringo. From the original Ed Sullivan Show broadcast of the Beatles to today, Ringo is the Beatle I’d most invite over to sit on my front porch. He’s down-to-earth, homey, and even a little silly.

Ringo had a hard time dealing with the breakup of the Beatles and turned to drink to help him cope. He also was pretty fond of the nose candy. Trust me. I knew his dealer in Hollywood. I don’t know if he still enjoys a hit of pot once in a while or not, but I doubt it. He and his wife, the luscious Barbara Bach, went through major rehab and I doubt they’d mess it up over a little reefer. Besides, that new body of his shows absolutely no trace of Cheetos or fried pork rind munchies. No, this is one clean-living, sober, vegetarian man.

Next, we have Keith Richards, who will turn 73 on Sunday. He’s rock  & roll’s original bad boy, bad man, and bad old fart. He’s a pirate. He smokes, drinks…who know what all, and I doubt he’s a vegetarian. No, he doesn’t look as good as Ringo, but then, he never did. Earlier pictures of the Stones should have prepared us. But he’s still out there. Like Ringo, he continues to tour, record, and make great music. We should all be so decrepit!

I love Keef. I love his philosophies about life and I love his ability to not give a rat’s ass what any of us think about him. He just marches along to the beat of his own drum, laughing all the way, leaving a trail of cigarette butts behind him and dropping gems like, “The point is, who are you? Do you know yourself, and can you handle it?” and “It’s not about living forever, it’s about living with yourself forever.” The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in these simple ideas.

So here’s my plan:

I’m going to watch these two icons and see which one goes first. Whichever one survives will dictate how I’ll live my remaining years. If Ringo lives longer, I’ll clean up, exercise, eat better, and who knows? Maybe I’ll get myself a drum set and go back to playing. If Keef is the one to survive, then I’m going to start doing all the things I didn’t do during the 1960s and ’70s. Yeah, I know I did a lot, but not as much as either of these blokes.

Either way, because I’m younger, I’m pretty sure I’ll outlive both Ringo and Keef. We’ll see what happens after that.

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You Might Be Cool, But…

You’ll never be as cool as…

Brian Jones wearing earrings on his lapels
…Brian Jones wearing earrings on his lapels,
donovan-posing-with-jennifer-juniper
…Donovan posing with Jennifer Juniper,
dylan-playing-chess-in-woodstock
…Bob Dylan playing chess in Woodstock,
jimi-brushing-his-fro
…Jimi Hendrix brushing his fro,
jimi-hendrix-drinking-wine-on-this-bed
…Or drinking wine on his Boho bed,
john-lennon-not-knowing-where-the-fook-he-is
…John Lennon not knowing where the fook he is,
john-not-caring-that-his-flys-open
…Or swaggering along not caring that his fly is open,
keith-richards-doing-a-fan-dance
…Keith Richards doing a fan dance,
paul-george-taking-a-stroll-through-the-park
…Paul McCartney and George Harrison strolling through the park,
pre-glam-bowie
…Pre-Glam Bowie,
robert-plants-arse
…Robert Plant’s arse,
salvador-dali-trying-to-look-one-third-his-actual-age
…Salvador Dali trying to look one-third his actual age,
the-strawberry-alarm-clock-striking-the-chicken-arm-pose
…The Strawberry Alarm Clock striking the ‘Chicken Arm’ pose,
this-chick-period
…This chick. Period.
this-collection-of-trousers
…This collection of trousers,

 

whoevers-wearing-this-coat-and-hat
…And whoever’s wearing this coat and hat.
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