MARXIST HUMOR: UNITY OF THEORY & PRACTICE

Santiago Colas scolas at umich.edu
Mon Jun 5 22:33:12 MDT 1995


Hilarious!  My response to the pop quiz:
1."Blew up once" is obviously the central kernel of the punch-line and,
as such, it houses, again obviously, two meanings, one totally banal and
unfunny and the other pretty tragic (if you care about Christa McAuliffe
or someone who did).  Yet juxtaposed, fused as it were in this single
phrase, the thing is funny.  So the humor, if you ask me, resides
somewhere in the liminal (sorry about that word) space between the two
"literal" meanings.  I seem to remember from a comedy class I took in
college some essay by Bergson on humor where he emphasized a certain
juxtaposition of the cosmic and the banal as the source of humor (anyone
else remember?) and I remember we played it out by reading Woody Allen's
Getting Even and Without Feathers.  Something along these lines is at
work in Ralph's joke.

2.However, there's another edge (maybe it comes from Adorno or somewhere
in the Frankfurt school, if I remember vaguely correctly) where the laugh
is like a cannibalistic, aggressive gesture, right?  so it wouldn't be so
mucha bout the pleasure you take in laughing, unless (as I've said
before) the pleasure resides precisely in the act of agression which
laughing involves.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santiago Colas					e-mail:	scolas at umich.edu
Asst. Professor					phone:	(313) 763-4352
Latin American and Comparative Literature	fax:	(313) 764-8163
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1275
USA

On Mon, 5 Jun 1995, Ralph Dumain wrote:

> Santiago isn't funny, but he's thinking.  What, pleasure be
> recognized by the Vanguard Party?  No use value here, comrades.
>
> As a Deborinite menshevizing idealist, I'm far more interested in
> the dykealicktickle materialist approach than the hysterectical
> part.  I don't know what historicizing pleasure means (get the
> Hook ready), but I do know that we love to laugh at disaster.
> What makes one joke merely cute and another one riproaring?  Could
> it be the profundity of the simultaneous absurdity and truth
> encapsulated within it?
>
> Remember all those jokes that followed the Challenger explosion in
> 1986?  Most of them centered around the star of that show, Christa
> McAuliffe, the teacher who went along for the ride into Space.
> Well, my fellow humorologists and I collected them all.  Without a
> doubt, there is one joke that stands out above the rest.  It may
> not Further the Struggle, but here it is:
>
> Q: Why was Crista McAuliffe such a good teacher?
>
> A: She only blew up once in front of the class.
>
> After you are done laughing, please explain why this is so funny.
> This is a pop quiz, so get out those keyboards and pixels and get
> to it.
>
>
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>


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