Thursday, May 25, 2006

Acceptable Humor or Bad Taste?

There can be a very fine line between humor and bad taste, especially when the joking is directed at a person.

One reason why I find the old line "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" to be acceptable is I suspect that Abe Lincoln would have laughed at it. But the joke would have sparked a very different reaction in 1865 and I still have an odd feeling whenever I hear it. There would certainly be no humor in a joke about JFK's assassination.

That said, these Jimmy Hoffa cupcakes make me uneasy.

Is it the hand or the timing?


CT said...

A noxious character in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" lived by the comedy truism that "tragedy plus time equals funny". He used Oedipus as a prime example: "Who did this terrible thing to our city? Ooooh, no -- I did!"

And hey, a big part of all comedy is timing, right? In several senses, it seems.

Michael Wade said...

"Tragedy plus time equals funny."

Sort of like when Tony Blair addressed Congress, mentioned the British burning Washington, DC in the War of 1812, and then said, "Sorry about that." It cracked everyone up.