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Friday, March 8, 2013

People who don't get jokes -- Part 1

(this post is divided into two parts, because it started getting really long and I couldn't be bothered to write the whole thing at once)

Everyone misses jokes from time to time. Maybe you're tired and the joke is really subtle, or maybe the joke was a reference to something obscure that you just aren't familiar with. Hell, maybe you just plain weren't paying attention. And that's okay. It even happens to me.

Pretty much this exact thing has happened to me before.

Sometimes, people don't realize you're joking and so they respond with advice or helpful offers. This post is not about those people. My grandma does this, and it's adorable.

Haha. Grandmas, am I right?!

But sometimes, people don't get jokes and then are shitty about it. Because they are stupid, or hateful, or simply unfamiliar with humor/humans. More often the latter.

There are different types of not-getting-jokes, often perpetrated by different types of people. All of them are irritating in some form or other. Here they are, presented in order of how much they make me want to punch them in the face:


The person who thinks they're adding to your joke by explaining it

Oh, bless your little heart, you adorable non-joke-getters. I don't even really want to punch you in the face at all, because you're doing your best. It's just unfortunately the case that you and humor aren't really on the same page too often.

To illustrate this, let's revisit Janet Dammit's Facebook status from the other day, but replace Joke Ruiner with Joke Oblivious:

Is this annoying? Of course it is. But the thing to keep in mind is that it's not Joke Oblivious's fault that he's never left the house before. HE'S TRYING! He's failing, but he's trying.

He's nowhere near as bad as ...
The person who doesn't get hyperbole


I love using hyperbole to make jokes. It takes ordinary complaints, twists them around, and makes them sound funny. Sure, it's a lazy way to get a laugh ... but I'm nothing if not lazy. I mean, which sounds funnier? "Turned on the radio but didn't like any of the songs so I turned it off," or "Turned on the radio and each song that came on somehow managed to be the worst song I had ever heard in my life. After two short minutes of listening, I had fashioned a noose from my phone charger and was in the process of attaching it to the dome light when I finally remembered I could just turn the radio off. Which I did. With a sledgehammer."


But then there are the unfortunate souls who just don't get hyperbole. They don't fully understand that you're blowing things out of proportion on purpose in order to make a joke. Instead, they think that you are genuinely a Type A Rage-a-holic and you need to seriously chill out before you pop a blood vessel or bring a gun to work or something.

I don't know. Do I seem like the type who would literally cut off a person's nose and feed it to them just because they kept blowing their nose at the lunch table? I'm honestly asking. 

For example, a while ago, I started a thread on a forum wherein I described small everyday inconveniences that made me boil with rage. The first example I used was when I tried to turn the page in a newspaper but the page kept sticking to the page after it, and after two or three failed attempts to turn just one page, I actually had to close the newspaper and take a deep breath before continuing, lest I punch the person next to me square in the face, punt a baby, and then somehow derail the metro train with my mind. 

Others then followed up with similar stories of raging out over things like putting something on a hanger and having it immediately fall off, over and over again; or running over the same bit of fluff with the vacuum a million times even though you could just bend over and pick it up yourself, but the vacuum's JOB IS TO PICK IT UP SO EFF YOU STUPID VACUUM YOU'RE PICKING UP THAT FLUFF IF IT TAKES ALL DAY. The thread turned out hilarious, because we'd all experienced this small daily rage attack over something stupid, and then we'd hyperbolized our stories for the amusement of others.

Because she's going to kill him. Over a toilet seat!!! HA!

But then the killjoys started to show up on the thread. And they had helpful advice for all of us: "omg i can't believe you guys would seriously waste so much time and energy being pissed off about such stupid things. get some perspective -- people deal with way worse shit and don't complain a bit."  Or "wow I can't imagine getting that mad about ANYTHING, much less something so stupid like a newspaper page. chill the f*** out."

And then I sighed, and a little part of me died, because that's the kind of stupid you just can't fix. Somewhere in the world, some smug idiot is feeling superior to me because she has never, not once, set her laptop on fire and used it to beat a kitten to death because Adobe Acrobat needed to be updated for the sixtieth time that month and I DON'T EVEN USE ADOBE ACROBAT.

Don't even try to tell me you haven't thought about setting your laptop on fire and using it to beat a kitten to death when this window pops up, though.

This brings us to the next awful person on the list ...

The person who doesn't get sarcasm or satire
(yes, sarcasm and satire are very different, but I think they fool a lot of the same people and lead to a lot of the same reactions so shut up)

It can be hard to identify sarcasm in writing. It can. The dramatic eye-roll that accompanies sarcasm in real life gets lost in the written word, and so it gets a lot of people into trouble -- both writers and readers alike. 

So here's a good rule of thumb when you read something that may be sarcastic/satirical (but you aren't sure): if someone who is normally smart, witty, and on the right side of issues suddenly says something hideously misogynistic, blindingly stupid, or mind-bogglingly offensive, consider the very real possibility that their statement was meant sarcastically or satirically. You know, A JOKE. In fact, even if you DON'T necessarily know if the quote in question is from someone who is generally smart, witty, or enlightened, take a deep breath and think it through before you grab your boxing gloves and light saber. It might be a trap intended to make you look like a jackass.

Like this tweet from actor Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight from The Office. It was a trap that at least one idiot walked right into. 

Which was especially embarrassing for that idiot, because the tweet that directly preceded it was this one:

When someone makes a joke and you stumble blindly into it screaming about how women ARE NOT naturally dumber than men or how DARE you advocate killing innocent babies just because they are ugly or THAT'S NOT HOW YOU SPELL "YOU'RE" YOU DUMBASS, the person who ends up looking like a Grade A moron is you.

My favorite people on Twitter spend much of their time setting traps and waiting for idiots.

Did someone show up to "correct" her by informing her that people in Holland actually put MAYONNAISE on their french fries, not human semen?

F**king of course someone did.


He's right, guys. Weed has killed more teens than guns and power tools combined. #420NO

Part 2 coming up next week, in which I discuss people who not only don't get your joke, but are OFFENDED by it. Because those people are just the best.

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