Is comedy subjective?

Well, is it? Hmm? Is it?

The answer is simple: Of course it fucking is, don’t be ridiculous.

Except when it isn’t.



Oh. I thought this was going so well.

Comedy is subjective because different people laugh at different things. I don’t find ‘My Family’ particularly funny. That doesn’t mean it isn’t, nor does it mean there’s something wrong with my sense of humour – it just means it’s not for me.

Some people don’t find ‘Monty Python’ funny or ‘The Hitch-Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy’ or ‘Blackadder’ or ‘Fawlty Towers’. They are, of course, wrong because they disagree with me and that will never do.

What’s that? I’m not the centre of the universe nor the arbiter of what is and isn’t funny? Really? Have you got written evidence of that?

You have?

Oh okay, they’re not wrong either.

Different people find different things funny because they’re different. It’s really not that complicated.

I once read a forum where somebody mocked the notion of comedy being subjective by comparing it to emptying a bin. Either a bin’s empty or not, in the same way a TV show is either funny or not. You don’t hear binmen justifying not emptying a bin by saying ’empty is a subjective term.’

This is, of course, a twat’s argument.

Funny isn’t universal, it’s very, very personal. So personal, in fact, that when someone doesn’t find a TV show funny they start issuing death threats and demanding the people involved be erased from existence. The effort and aggression people put into not liking the people who wrote/created comedy they don’t like is staggering … and a bit odd.

On the other hand, I’d say comedy isn’t subjective when it fails to amuse the people it was specifically created for. If you like a particular stand up comedian and, in the middle of a funny set, he tells a joke which repeatedly fails to elicit a laugh from every audience he plays to … then it’s not funny. Move on.

If you create a sitcom aimed at the same audience who love ‘My Family’ and they hate it … it’s not funny. You’ve failed. Kill yourself. Now. Do it now.

Except, maybe you haven’t failed? Maybe it’ll find a different audience who’ll love it?

Or maybe it won’t.

Maybe I’ve no idea what I’m talking about and should shut the fuck up? On balance, that seems increasingly likely.

The point is, just because you don’t find something funny, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Unless the person was specifically trying to make you laugh, in which case it probably isn’t. Or you haven’t got a sense of humour. Or the person misunderstood what kind of thing you find funny. Or something else. Or possibly you’ll find it funny next time you hear it because you either didn’t get it or were too busy worrying about your sick puppy.

Oh fuck it, I’ve no idea. Is comedy subjective? You tell me.

Categories: Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way, Writing and life | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Is comedy subjective?

  1. I do enjoy our little chats

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