The 4 Greatest Things in Comedy (Everyone Misunderstands)

We all love things that bring us pain. Perhaps it's the wrong woman, or our local sports team that never wins, or something else.

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"Nipple clamps? Is it nipple clamps?"

But this is an article specifically about what breaks my heart in comedy. The funny things I love that bring nothing but pain.

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"Nipple clamps are funny. Is it nipple clamps?"

No. It's not nipple clamps, it's these:

#4. Seemingly Politically Incorrect Jokes That Are Totally Fine

Let me be clear. Dropping words like "nigger" and "faggot" and "kike" doesn't earn you a place in my heart. Any rabid dog can hate, and any no-talent hack can replace actual jokes with a merely edgy vocabulary. But I do love jokes that aren't afraid of offending. You can fracture and deconstruct stereotypes in a way that dances with hatred without embracing it. For example, there is such a thing as a non-homophobic gay joke. I've always loved this one, and I stand by it as being completely appropriate:

Q: How do you tell if your roommate is gay?
A: His cock tastes like shit.

The joke does not mock gays or gay sex practices. It's a joke about misdirection. The humor comes from the notion that some dude would be blowing his roommate in an earnest attempt to find out if he's gay. Still, I'm sure it's upsetting to the politically correct.

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This is the only pic that comes up in a photo search for both "offended" and "sleepy-time yoga."

My contempt for the PC movement really crystallized in college. I went to school at the height of political correctness. On my first day of school, my RA told us all that the word "girl" was "hate speech." Of course, I didn't have to stay in that dorm. I could have moved out into a fraternity and been surrounded by dudes who wouldn't sweat those details, but I thought frat guys would be too conformist, small-minded, and mean. So, my sophomore year, I moved into a dorm of architects, freaks, and sexually fluid individuals who were very concerned about creating a nurturing environment where no one would call any of them a "fag." Instead of circling kegs and harassing women, they spent a lot of time congregated in pre-hipster circles, spewing their own contempt at people who weren't like them. Over the course of my four years at school, I saw enough to realize that there were good people in the world and hateful bigots too, but trying to figure out who was who based on what words they used (or jokes they told) was probably the least helpful way to go about it.

So when I see a joke that I know would piss off my old RA or those precious sophomores but is actually too clever and open-minded to have ever been told by some thick-necked frat guy, I fall in love. Problem is, however, most of the world falls into one of those two extremes, which means telling jokes like that usually involves a lot of painful explaining.

#3. Mocking Deaths

I have to be careful about this entry, too. I'm not one of those people who say "It's a comic's job to joke about anything!" or "There is no line." There is definitely a line. And I'd say it's only a comic's right to joke about anything he can make funny. Now it goes without saying that the more horrible the thing is, the harder it is to find the humor in it. There are things I'm pretty sure will never be made funny, but if you can figure out how to actually make non-horrible people laugh about baby murder or genocide, then fine, go ahead, do it.

Personally, I like cracking dark jokes about celebrity deaths, and I do it a lot on Twitter, usually costing me two followers for each new one I gain every time I do it. Not all celebs stir me to action, and not all deaths become comic fodder. There has to be something to justify it. It helps if the deceased was garbage. That would be the case with my Joe Paterno tweets.

Most people (outside of Penn State fans, who apparently can forgive anything) didn't mind that one so much.

But when Amy Winehouse died, I wrote an entire obituary for her, devoid of sympathy. It was a reaction to all her fans bemoaning her loss to addiction when so much of what made them her fans in the first place was her defiant embrace of addiction. Turns out it was the only article of mine Cracked has ever rejected, and although some readers agreed with my reason for its existence, many felt it was just far too ghoulish, and, as such, its rejection for the site's readership was probably proper. (Incidentally, that rejection wasn't such a bad thing because it inspired some further reflection on my part, leading me to write a better piece that Cracked did publish). But I stand by the initial obit. When something dark makes me laugh, I have enough faith that it's not because I'm a sociopath, and that leads me to ask questions. And that's how a comedy loser like me has fun.

Or sometimes I find a way to make a joke about death that isn't really meant to be a giant fuck you to the deceased, like when Steve Jobs died:

To me, that was just making fun of Mac fanboys more than Steve Jobs, but yeah, it pissed people off. And that's OK. If you go dark, even if you're well-intentioned, you will take shit along a sliding scale of people's subjective tastes. And not speaking ill of the dead is one of the most ingrained things there is in society, so get ready.

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