Friday, February 20, 2009

The fine lines and times of satire

As a youngest child with nothing of substance to add to most family dinner discussions, I had no choice but to accept my niche as the annoying little commentator. If at least one out of every twenty comments or so drew a reaction, I considered that to be a reasonable success rate. Bonus points if I could elicit a laugh. Extra bonus points if I prompted an especially reluctant and helpless laugh, like if I said something that was so immature that it lowered the self-worth of anyone who laughed at it.

Even now, walking around in an adult body, I still live in a childish mind. It still takes me by surprise when I say or do something weird and people look at me like I'm weird. I'm like, please just laugh or ignore it. That's how I used to get treated, and that's what I'm used to. Unfortunately, not everyone gets it, so learning to maintain a humorous edge while remaining sensitive to the moral sensibilities of stupid people appears to be a life-long journey for me.

Sometimes it is impossible for me to predict what will draw a laugh and what will draw a frown. Here are two examples of songs that I consider high-quality irreverence. One almost uniformly draws happily amused reactions, while the other typically elicits disappointed frowns or sad giggles.

Here is one verse of the first example, which appears not to exist on youtube, and came to me via one of those old record devices that came even before record players. Emphasis applies to the almost-rhyme between "fit" and "shave":
An old lady died in her bathtub
She died from a terrible fit
In order to fulfill her wishes
She was buried in six feet of
Shaving cream be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen
This song deals both with foul language and the death of a lady, and an old lady at that. The second song (on youtube) might seem far more benign, and yet it is generally deemed more repugnant. Here is an excerpt:
All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun's shining bright,
Ev'rything seems all right,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.

Am I missing something?


Blogger Mama JJ said...

This is hilarious, both you AND the songs.

The alluded-to SHIT in the first song makes it silly, but the serious tones of the second song (no SHIT involved) make it rather sinister, I suppose.

Then again, I am your big sister, so I may be missing something, too.


11:12 AM  
Anonymous goodbadi said...

Hey now, Mama JJ--don't dishonor the pigeons by not recognizing their true calling, which is the very reason for their needing poisoned in the first place...

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's the sister--oops, I mean sinister--ness toward the pigeons.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous dr perfection said...

why do you assume that people who do not think you are funny are stupid. That might be a false assumption. Maybe you just aren't funny sometimes.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first is clearly just silly scatalogical humor. The second is not silly enough for some people.


11:26 AM  
Blogger My Freakwentness said...

Dear Dr. Perfection,

Right on. As I mentioned, I'm funny only about once in twenty tries. Rest assured that I don't think you are stupid. Perhaps that ill use of the word "stupid" was a poor attempt at satirizing a my own twisted mind.

12:15 PM  

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