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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kids Today: They Don't Get Jokes

Yes folks, Jeff the old fogey is going to have another rant about Kids Today!

Remember those days back in the late 90s/early 2000s when Amanda Bynes was just a cute funny little girl on All That and The Amanda Show and not a complete bark-at-the-moon bona fide train wreck? Yes? OK. Well, she used to have a recurring sketch on her show where she and co-star Josh Server (what happened to him?) were dressed as hillbillies on the front porch of a mountain holler cabin, wearing overalls with no undershirt, teeth missing, freckles, ear of grass in the mouth, like a total yee-haw cartoony representation of backwoods rednecks, and she'd tell a knock-knock joke that made no sense and ended up with her hitting Josh in the head with whatever it was she said in the joke, i.e.:

AB: Knock knock!
JS: Who's there?
AB: Fire extinguisher!
JS: Fire extinguisher who?
AB: Imma hit you in the head with a fire extinguisher! (WHOMP!)

 Yeah, not terribly funny, but it got a laugh from the child-filled audience. But it was this kind of thing that I believe led to the state of things we have today, where anyone under the age of 25 does not get the kind of jokes that people of my age used to find funny (and, in my case at least, still find funny today). What I am talking about is the kind of kid jokes that, on the face of it, made no real sense, in that the events described within the joke are patently ridiculous and impossible, which is what makes them amusing in the first place. I'm talking about Doctor Doctor jokes, Waiter jokes, and especially Elephant jokes. Not with me? Let me explain with a quick example or two.

Man: Doctor! Doctor! I think I'm invisible!
Doctor: Who said that?!

How can you tell if an elephant's been in your fridge?
Footprints in the butter.

Man: Waiter! What's this fly doing in my soup?!
Waiter: Looks like the backstroke, sir.

What's the difference between an elephant and an aspirin?
I don't know.
Well, in that case I won't ask you next time I have a headache!

These jokes are funny because of the ridiculousness of the situation. These events could clearly never take place in real life. No-one would ever mistake an aspirin tablet for a full sized pachyderm, which is why it makes us laugh. But the Amanda Bynes joke actually makes more sense to today's kids. Why is this?

I don't have the answer. But I cite as evidence the following...

Pretty much every time one of our young'uns has friends over, I make jokes on the level that I enjoyed (still enjoy) as a 12- or 13-year-old, which not only include elephant jokes and the like, with their wacky and surreal situations (i.e. comedy gold) but also some fabulous puns. I can remember a particular instance when one of these young lads said to me after the aspirin joke above, "But that's ridiculous. Surely you'd know the difference between an elephant and an aspirin, I mean they're totally different!" to which I replied, "Yes - that's why it's funny!"

It's not only teens that do this. Even my co-workers (all in their early 20s) have trouble understanding my jokes, and believe me, it's not in the telling, it's not because they're obscure, it's not that they are too young to get the references (although they occasionally are), it's simply because they don't understand the format of a joke, or they find the situations too ridiculous to even entertain the possibility that perhaps an elephant might park his trike outside or that a bowl of custard might be shark-infested.

It is refreshing, therefore to see a show on TV such as Gigglebiz on the CBeebies channel, a sketch comedy show for preteens, hosted by Justin Fletcher in various guises in the sketches, and telling jokes with young kids inbetween.  There is hope for zany humour after all. Good to know that not all young people are so gosh-darn analytical.

Justin, as you can see, dons many guises, but by far my favourite is the Geordie fitness expert, Keith Fit. Here's Keith in action.

Hooray for silliness! Long may it live.

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