An outraged American lady on YouTube wrote to me the other day. After a preamble in which she informed me that my cartoons were "ugly" and "repulsive" and wished that my internet would go down, she offered some advice on the subject of humour. Sorry, "humor":
"Humor has got to have some truth to it to be funny....If you don't know that, you should not try to be "funny"...
When I say the English have bad teeth, that is funny because there is f'in truth to it..."
She's wrong, of course. By this rationale I could say "Americans are fat", and that would be funny. But it's not. It is largely (ho ho) true, just as her statement about us English having horrible gnashers is dentally true, but the truth isn't funny in itself.
If it were, surely she should have laughed at the statement "the World Trade Centre fell down." But she didn't. (Unless she's one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks the towers are still standing, but magically hidden from view. Or that they never existed in the first place.)
I think she's heard the phrase "It's funny because it's true", and thinks it means "If it's true, then it's funny". So she makes an interesting point, without meaning to. If the truth isn't funny per se, what do you need to do with the truth to make it funny?
I will ponder this over coffee.