Sometimes when someone’s getting to know me, I do this thing.
It goes like this: A group of us are hanging around and we start joking about random stuff. I’ll say something dumb to try to setup the new guy, like, “Hey, let’s give so-and-so a hand!” and the new guy bites and says something like, “Not you, though!” He’ll have this very satisfied look on his face, like he’s one of us now. Then, I’ll scowl and look right into his eyes and say, “Dude…not ok. I’ll let you know when it’s ok for you to joke about my arm. That’s my decision to make.”
The room is quiet.
He’ll swallow hard, start to sweat and apologize profusely.
Then I’ll crack and say, “Totally kidding, dude! It’s cool!”
We all throw our heads back in laughter and the frame freezes and the music plays.
Now, dear reader, you are in one of two camps: You’re either laughing…or you think I’m a total jerk.
That’s the thing with humor; it’s completely subjective.
I mean, my wife says she married me because I make her laugh, but I would wager she only thinks about 70% of the stuff I think is funny is actually funny. Sophomoric humor is not beneath me. Puns are fantastic. Reading websites devoted to cataloging all of the characters who lost arms in the Star Wars series is good fun. And then there’s…
Buster Bluth. Monster.
If you’re not a fan, Buster Bluth is a character in the TV show Arrested Development. In season two, Buster loses his hand when it’s bitten off by a loose seal. He then obtains a hook arm and essentially overdramatizes everything in relation to it. Now, some people would find this offensive on many levels. I, on the other hand – HA! – get that they are purposely taking Buster’s actions to the extreme for comedic effect. And gosh dang it…it’s funny!
But that’s the trouble with humor, right? It can be unfunny or even offensive to one person, yet hilarious to another.
I’ve written before about the idea of having a laugh about your “disability,” and I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but it’s a concept I fully believe in. It’s a drag to take ourselves so seriously all the time!
As someone who tries to be funny, especially in the public arena, I understand that not everyone will appreciate what I think is funny. It stinks, but I get it. If you even dabble in the field of humor and can’t accept this fact, you’re doomed.
For instance, I came-up with these ideas for some t-shirts a while back (which you can now purchase here).
I’m all about being helpful.
Ultimately, if I wear a shirt that I think is funny and somebody else doesn’t think it is…that’s ok. My focus is on the ones who do.
So, this is what I think: I think it behooves us all to give each other some slack when it comes to humor. By all means, if it’s mean-spirited or demeaning and you’re upset by it, discuss it with the person. And those of us who try to be funny need to be aware that this could happen, even if it’s not our intent. When that happens – own it. Explain, apologize if you need to and move on.
Ultimately – for me at least – I’m going to keep being a goofball. I’ll keep trying to get people to smile and laugh.
That’s just how I roll.
How do YOU roll? What are your thoughts on incorporating and even basing some of your humor around your “disability”?