Last night, following an impromptu tweet to an “old” friend, I ended up staying up till after 3am; typically out of charcter for me currently, discussing the typical things you do when you catch up with pals that have not been spoken to in a while as well as about philosophy and past antics; old jokes in particular.
I’m no professor of humour but it seems clear to me, and I’m sure most people, that humour relies upon, primarily, both the performer and the audience both being brought up in the same culture and both having the same general frame of reference. It’s obvious that if I have no comprehension of a given subject matter that it will be hard, ney, impossible to understand a joke based on it as it requires active negotiation between the subject and its connotations for humour to develop. I’m going to insinuate that the closer the relationship, in terms of frames of reference, between the audience and the performer, the more intensified the laughs and the humour will be. Take this idea to its logical conclusion, the best form of humour are the “in-jokes; regardless of how infantile or banal they may be, that have been negotiated and developed, often unwittingly, between close groups of friends and therefore they are the pinnacle of humour.
Recalling these In-Jokes that have developed over the years between my “old” friends; a term I don’t particularly like but is apt for the purpose of this, last night was a real laugh and, terms of a post-modern/baudrillard inspired viewpoint, it made me come to the conclusion that humour which has not naturally developed between friends is a simulation of humour, the true nature of real humour is not the joke and the punchline but its the experiences and memories that are associated with the exisitense of the joke, it is here where the “real” humour lies. What comedy products serve to do is present you with a simulatation of this negotiated shared joke creation process, but it ultimately fails to live up to the original, it is a simulation of humour, and in many ways we as a society of come to prefer it, as with most simulations, which is a real shame. Of course this is not to say in-jokes no longer exist, far from it, it’s just they are often vastly under-appreciated due to there relatively small scope.
I did not intend actually to write a blogpost harping on about humour like this, but in the often stream of consciousness nature of some of the blogposts on this here badly maintained blog it has happened, and I have no intention of going back and making it sound more coherent; it is what it is. It must be said that in the nice wether we’ve had in recent days I’ve ended up reading some of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, and this has cleary shaped this blogpost somewhat. Just gonna end on a quote from the book which I really liked, although it’s not actually from Debord himself, its in-fact a quote from the philosopher Feuerbach, taken from the start of the copy of the book which I own, it true origin is from the book entitled “The Essence of Christianity”
“But for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy of the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence… truth is considered profane and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”