The thing about humor is that it’s highly subjective. For instance, what makes me roll with uncontrollable laughter until projectile tears squeeze out of my eyeballs usually leaves my husband scratching his head, and when he’s laughing, my immediate response to the catalyst is most often “That’s lame.” So it’s a simple matter to conclude that what I find hilarious may not mesh with anyone else’s idea of comedy. Anyway, having lived on the planet for over 40 years, I’ve noticed it becomes increasingly difficult to get that gut-busting laughter out of me. It’s not that I’m losing my sense of humor as I age; I’ve simply heard so many jokes, watched so many funny movies, and seen and heard so much parody that it takes something truly novel, unexpected and often completely random to make me lose it. I guess I’m jaded, but that should just lend further credence to my favorite funny things– if they make a tough sell like me giggle insanely, they should definitely work for others. Unless you’re my husband, in which case, just bear with me.
I love reading fan fiction. Sometimes it’s actually even good. However, it’s even better when it’s horribly, atrociously bad. Spelling flies out the window, malapropisms and hyperbole abound, and have you ever seen so many exclamation points in your life? Of course, the classic badfic is the notorious My Immortal, a Harry Potter fic featuring a goth Mary Sue, lots of red contact lenses, rib-tickling sex scenes of every flavor, time travel (and the sudden, WTF-inducing appearance of Marty McFly), guest performances from My Chemical Romance and a Voldemort in high heels among its many treasures. It’s been taken down and subsequently reposted on Fanfiction.net numerous times, has inspired countless YouTube videos and has a Facebook fan page. Written by a young lady named Tara, who is either poorly educated and seriously disturbed or the most epic troll of the internet age, My Immortal had me in stitches for days as I gave up trying to make sense of the narrative– really, there is none– and just succumbed to the hilarity. Here’s a link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6829556/1/My-Immortal. Enjoy it, and don’t try to make up any drinking games around it, or you’ll die of alcohol poisoning.
Equally comic but mercifully briefer is the short Lord of the Rings fanfic Legolas, or as it’s more commonly known, Legolas by Laura. Again we are treated to a Mary Sue main character and– oh, I’ll just let this one speak for itself. Narrated exactly as it is written, here is the “movie” version:
The best part is when Legolas attempts to pronounce the misspelling “Strdier” and his jaw falls off.
You may not have heard of the late author/illustrator Edward Gorey, but you’ve probably seen his distinctive work, gracing the intro to PBS’ Mystery! series and elsewhere. If you’ve never read any of his numerous books, they’re short, macabre and wickedly funny. He skewered morality tales, fantasy and adventure stories, and even alphabet books with his trademark Gothic style, resulting in a darkly humorous pastiche of the magical and mundane. There are a number of YouTube presentations of his work, which was often published under pseudonyms (usually anagrams of his own name, such as Ogdred Weary or Regera Dowdy). At any rate, it’s side-splitting stuff, whether in its original book form or in animated format, narrated or not. Here are a few of my favorites.
If Gorey is a little too cerebral for the mood you’re in, here’s the opposite end of the spectrum. These are deliberately poorly drawn, badly spelled Paint comics that feature ripoffs of well-known characters from many different sources– Disney creations share panel space with Looney Tunes cartoons and superheroes, and most of the action centers around Dolan Duck, a murderous, sex-crazed version of Donald. His object in life appears to be heaping as much misery on Goofy (here renamed Gooby) as possible, often with blood-spattered or otherwise squicky results. Mutant facsimiles of Spider-Man (Spoderman), Bugs Bunny (Bogs), and even Shrek (Sherk) all appear, and Dolan makes life hell for all of them. These comics are a little divisive– people either love them or hate them. Fluffy finds them surreal and so indescribably random that mindless laughter is the only response. In fact, they remind me a bit of the cartoons I drew in elementary and middle school in their anarchic and usually senseless mayhem. There was a dedicated board on Memebase for the Dolan comics, which has since been taken down in favor of the inferior and even more incomprehensible My Little Brony meme, probably caving to pressure from the haters, who took the comics way too seriously and tended to be very vocal in their dislike. Dolan is still easily found on Reddit and Tumblr, however: http://www.reddit.com/r/dolan, http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/dolan. Be warned that most of the content is decidedly NSFW.
Note that I am not bagging on the late, great Mr. Welles at all. I may not have enjoyed Citizen Kane but recognize its import, and appreciate his work as a whole. Welles was an undisputed genius. Thing was, he knew it, and his bleak understanding that he was doomed to be misinterpreted and surrounded by either sycophants or idiots made him a little testy at times. He was notoriously difficult to work with, but this was due to his general disdain for hackneyed writing and subpar direction. His mellifluous voice made him a natural for voiceover work, but the quality of the ad copy he was forced to read for such jobs grated on his nerves and he was unafraid to say so. This often led to hilarity as Welles would start slamming the script or director while tape was running, much of which has survived and (of course) shown up on the web for the amusement of the discerning:
TERRY GILLIAM’S MONTY PYTHON ANIMATIONS
This is a given. I have always loved Monty Python but Gilliam’s cutout animations are the icing on an incredibly yummy cake. Absurdist and gleefully silly, these little cartoons, in my opinion, are what made a good sketch comedy show great. The juxtaposition of unexpected elements and the added attraction of goofy sound effects and voices are the source of much of the humor, but these shorts really need no explanation: they are just awesome, and that’s that.
If you’re unfamiliar with this phenomenon, a shred consists of footage of a band performing, but overdubbed with lousy or bizarre music and lyrics synced to the artists’ lips and movements. These videos are sometimes short-lived, as the artists getting the shred treatment tend to call copyright fairly quickly, but a little digging can often turn them up again. I believe that shredding counts as Fair Use, since it falls into the category of parody, but somebody needs to tell that to YouTube, which always caves and removes the videos in question. The pioneer of the genre is known as St. Sanders, a YouTube user from Finland (real name Santeri Ojala) who created many of the classic videos in the format. Here are a couple of his masterpieces:
I purposely saved the best for last. Perhaps the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life (not a St. Sanders shred, but made of epic win):