The Internet Is Killing Funny

Never-ending funny! All you gotta do is change the captions!

To me, nothing is funnier than a punchline you didn’t see coming. Something original, something new, something fresh. I love telling that joke that nobody else has heard before, the shock on their faces when they hear it, the laughter… it’s intoxicating!

It used to be easy, back a decade or so. You could tell a good joke on a weekly basis. Then about five years ago, about half of the group you were telling the joke to would say “Hah, yeah, I got that in my email,” and you’d smile, only partially disappointed. Hey, at least half the group got some enjoyment, and even the half who knew the joke got a good chuckle revisiting it.

These days, someone sees something funny, “likes” it, shares it, tweets it, blogs it, emails it, stumbles it, tumbls it, picturegrams, instagrams, blahblahblah… and everyone knows it before me. The world is so inundated with this stuff that even when I do see something that would have stabbed me in the funny, I’m just so desensitized that I barely chuckle anymore.

Everything is the same now. Take shocking / unexpected quote, and substitute the latest trend, post it on that cheese burger site, get a zillion hits, rinse repeat.

I never in a million years, would have thought I’d be saying this, and I’m sure in some parallel universe where the internet never happened, some version of me is about to break out in tears, but I’m tired of bacon. Not eating it mind you, but the magical quality of bacon is just gone for me. Everyone on the internet is just plain hysterical because they talk about bacon. This is a running joke that if I see a blog post about bacon, or a joke or “poem” about bacon, I immediately lose a percentage of enjoyment, somewhere greater than 60%.

Ten years ago, I would have found the poem “Roses are red, bacon is red, poems are hard. Bacon” absolutely hysterical. I’d have written it on a white Hanes T-shirt in black sharpie and worn it three days a week, and people would have loved it. Now? I wanna slap the person who tweets it for wasting my time.

Jersey Shore. I saw a picture today that showed books falling off the end of a shelf, with the caption “A book commits suicide every time you watch Jersey Shore.” Very clever. Can we stop giving stupid shit we all hate MORE publicity please? Yeah, you’re trashing the show, good for you. You and everyone else on earth. I’d like to pretend that level of dumbassery doesn’t exist, but every time I try, something is shoved in my face to remind me that it’s there.

The internet is killing humor in almost every way. The only thing left is that which we can improvise, I think. You can no longer make someone laugh (or I should say, I find very little to laugh at) without some kind of live context. You gotta be able to process something that’s just been said, or just happened, and turn a phrase or an action, come up with a punch line or something like that, cause nobody is expecting it, and it’s gotta be good… AND you are working on the assumption that everyone else around you is on the same page. There’s always some space cadet who’ll say “Huh? Oh, I missed it.”

Funny is hard now! It’s a pain in the ass! You gotta be on guard all the time, ready for something that you can use, and be ready to use it. I can’t count the times when something’s happened, and I wasn’t ready, and I stand there groping for something clever only to come up empty.

Another thing that’s relatively safe is jokes about your own flaws, cause when someone says it about themselves, it’s considered safe ground. When someone says it about someone else, it’s just plain mean and that’s only funny to most guys… You’re bound to offend someone going that route. But it’s so safe, it’s almost not funny to me anymore as well. I used to love John Pinnette, and really, I still kinda do, but most of the time he cracks a fat joke, and I totally saw it coming. “Yep, let’s talk about lunch… Oh, a bacon joke. How clever.”

How about you, has the internet killed funny for you too? Do you find yourself rolling your eyes at jokes you’ve heard a skillion times now because of Facebook or Twitter or email?

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9 thoughts on “The Internet Is Killing Funny

  1. I’m not sure that it’s “killed” funny for me, but it certainly does make it a bit harder to write funny stuff. As I write, I constantly think, “Am I recycling somebody else’s joke here?” I try not to steal jokes, at least without giving attribution, but I’m sure I’ve done so many times.

    On the other hand, the internet opens up new avenues for humor. Unfortunately, you and I have been hanging around here for a while, so we’ve been down most of those roads. Every joke is fresh and funny to someone who hasn’t ever heard it (which is why some folks have kids, so they can gain a new audience for “pull my finger”, knock-knocks, and whatever physical schtick they have in their repertoire.)

  2. What Jim said. And to add… the ‘net is broadening humor’s horizons, exposing more people to more funny stuff. I prolly get some jokes three times in my mail, but that just tells me they were really GOOD jokes. And I recycle some stuff I get in my mail, too.

    The shit I hate is the over-the-top political stuff. Now THAT’S a whole nuther bag o’ worms.

    • I totally hear you about the political humor… It’s funny, I had never paid attention to politics, and admittedly I’m still far more disconnected from it than I should be.

      I find that the political satire is shoved in our faces so much, it’s difficult to tell exactly what it’s based on, because when you search for something, looking for the facts, most of what you get is opinion and comics.

      Unless you’re watching it when it happens, it’s buried in farce. Makes me want to turn away from politics even further than I have already.

  3. Agree with both of you on the politics. Humor had a much stronger role in bringing down the hypocrites and thieves in earlier times. When things weren’t so fragmented, and most folks got their news and/or humor from the same limited amount of sources, it was much easier to sift the real from the farcical, and the jokesters were stronger as a result. With the lines so blurred these days, many poor souls think they’re getting news when what they’re getting is a comedy writer’s take on the news. I think, for instance, that Jon Stewart and/or Steven Colbert can, at times, be brilliant, but there are way too many folks who have them as their only source for news. That’s not a good thing for a strong republic, IMVHO.

  4. I guess after giving this some thought, the internet may not be killing funny… It’s definitely flooding the market though.

  5. Killing a joke by over-repetition is a huge annoyance for me. I get angry when I see or hear the same thing for the hundredth time in two days. What bothers me more, though, is when a joke refuses to die – someone shares it on FB or Twitter or wherever, and I think, “Oh, yeah, I remember that… from SIX MONTHS ago.”

    As for political humor, I am sickened by it all now, at least here in the US. The only function it serves anymore is to ridicule or demonize those with whom you disagree, propagandize for those with whom you do agree, and drive a wedge between the opposing parties. Ultimately, it kills any chance of debate and compromise, and pushes us inevitably along this trip in a handbasket.

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