A little bit of humor helps… or hurts

I was recently discussing a project proposal from Eric M. Bosarge, and we got on the topic of humor. And I found myself writing this semi-essay about humor, very appropriate since Community CAME BACK LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!

Anyway, after pointing out my posts on A Teaspoon of Equality and how humor is “not serious” pain, I listed some of the stuff I find funny.

Katrina HumorStandup starts with Bill Hicks and early George Carlin, and some of Ron White, whom I suspect is both smarter than most of his audience and is VERY aware of it. Early episodes of Family Guy versus later seasons. Robot Chicken is about 75%-80% hits for me, but fat jokes leave me cold. Earlier seasons of Big Bang Theory – see Jim Hines’ post here, which I agree with.

As far as sci-fi humor, Bill the Galactic Hero was okay, but tended too much toward sexism for my tastes now. The Stainless Steel Rat series, however, holds up pretty well, because I remember the Rat’s wife being MORE competent than him… heck, see my review of Zelazny’s most famous works to get a sense of what I mean.

I am a HUGE fan of Community and the UK version of the Office, Talledega Nights, the 40 Year Old Virgin, and Borat even though they’re both horribly inappropriate (racist/sexist) at times. Largely, this is because when they ARE inappropriate, you’re both laughing AND feeling horrible that you’re laughing. Or you’re laughing AT them, not WITH them… something that Family Guy has lost. We started out laughing AT Peter’s asinine behavior – but anymore,
we’re being coaxed to laugh WITH him.

When comedians poke at women (“Oh, she can’t drive because she has the wrong chromosomes!”), ethnicities (I heard a NASCAR driver say “Polish lap” to describe driving backwards for a victory lap), fat people, etc… well, that just comes across as mean.

So what do you all think? What’s funny? What’s not?