“It’s funny because it’s true….” We’ve all heard that – but is it true?
Certainly, there are things that are funny, and there are things that are true, and sometimes, there are things that are both. Here’s a prime example of exactly that, and everyone past a certain age can relate to it.
But that doesn’t mean that for something to be funny, it also has to reveal some deep truth about human nature or even a shallow one. There’s plenty of very funny stuff that’s just willy-nilly-silly.
To illustrate my point, here are examples of surrealistic one-liners from American humorist Jack Handey’s popular compendium, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey:
“I think the monkeys at the zoo should have to wear sunglasses so they can’t hypnotize you.”
And this personal favorite of mine:
“One thing a computer can do that humans can’t is to be sealed up in a cardboard box and sit in a warehouse.” (Yeah, tell that to David Blaine.)
Famous New Yorker cartoonist Jack Ziegler was a master of the genre, as the following surrealistic cartoon mashups prove:
In my own cartoons, I’ve dabbled in both the surreal and the real. Here are examples of absurdity simply in the service of hilarity, complete with an impossible situational setup and an equally counterfactual punchline:
But more frequently, as a cartoonist, I like to take a real-world situation and absurdly exaggerate something in it to reveal a deeper truth that resonates emotionally, not logically:
Most of my ideas for my more surreal cartoons come to me when I’m daydreaming while awake. Basically, I sit doing what appears to be nothing while free-associating with words and doodles. It’s almost as though I’m creating a caption contest for myself to enter – and win – if I think up something funny.
In one happy instance, the idea for a cartoon appeared while I was actually asleep! Here’s one that came to me fully formed in a dream:
Inspiration for my true life cartoons is quite different. They are inspired by some actual experience I’ve either had, know about, or can imagine. Here’s a cartoon I created after I had what my doctor assured me was a routine procedure:
It certainly was for him. I woke up with a tube coming out of I’d rather not say where, and he was at lunch.
I’m often asked what my favorite cartoon is. Well, that depends on many things: what day it is, what I’ve had for lunch, who is the President – and whether it’s funny because it’s true or because it couldn’t be.
Interestingly, psychologists say that your taste in humor, cartoon or otherwise, absurd or real, tells quite a bit about your personality [and maybe even who you will vote for in the coming election.]
So, I’d like to get to know YOU better.
Visit CartoonStock.com, pick a favorite cartoon, and send it to me. Tell me if you think it’s absurdist or realistic, and what’s the TRUTH it tells. I’ll be commenting on what we learn in a coming blog.
Yours in Good Humor,