Thursday, August 21, 2014

dry humor.

I finally got it: the humor that tickles my funny bones is mostly of the dry, dark, absurd type. Definitely not slapstick. That explains why I was at a loss (while everyone was laughing out loud) when I watched Sisterakas in 2012. It also helps to explain why some of my friends rarely recognize it when I'm joking. At some point, I was called out because I might hurt someone's feelings with a joke, failing to recognize that it was an attempt at irony with a pinch of sarcasm. The subject of the joke didn't understand my attempt at dry wit neither but said it's only because the joke was weak... only getting it when I explained it again.

Maybe my taste for dry wit was developed after years of watching David Letterman. One of my favorites, for instance, is his "Top 10 Reasons Why There Couldn't Be A Filipino-American US President", presented many years ago. I had tears in my eyes while laughing! On the other hand, other Filipinos (not used to sarcasm and irony) found the joke to be a jab at Filipino identity.

Maybe I've been exposed enough to actors (and characters they portray) known for their sharp brand of comedy. For example...

I'm a fan of John Cleese, as R and then as Q (the tech guy) after seeing James Bond movies "The World is Not Enough"  and "Die Another Day". However, only some people (like my dad) could see how hilarious he was as the ├╝ber serious tech guy. And who could remember his ever poised interpretation of Nearly Headless Nick? More recently, Matty introduced me to John Cleese's classic series, "Fawlty Towers",  which turned out to be the standard to which newer British comedy shows are compared... a landmine of fast-paced wit, constantly playing on the thin line between humor and disrespect. I was laughing throughout the episode ("The Germans") we watched.

Then there's Stephen Fry; I found humor in his character's rebelliousness, the super serious news reporter, Gordon Dietrich, in "V for Vendetta"; it was refreshing amid the grey haze of the fictional post-modern British dystopia. His performance as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland was reeking with sarcasm as well... but then again, that's what I've always liked about the Cheshire Cat, even when I first saw the Disney interpretation as a gradeschooler.

Hugh Laurie, another comedian, is funny (but not in a laugh-out-loud kind of way) as House, M.D. His character's bedside manner is appalling at best but he's a brilliant doctor. The humor comes into play in the way he talked to fellow hospital staff and to his patients... yes, to; not with. Watching it from outside is certainly humorous but if I were the person he's talking with, I'd say that he's such a pain.

The latest comedian I got introduced to was Lenny Henry, through his kitchen adventures as Gareth Blackstock in "Chef!" (credit goes to Matty again). He is the kitchen's ultimate fictional tyrant, blasting sarcastic jabs onto kitchen staff; even the restaurant's customers were not spared from his colorful insults! Five episodes in, I still wipe my tears of laughter... I do feel sorry for Everton, the commis, because in cooking school, I was the commis to my more culinarily experienced classmates (yes, some of them are/were working in hotel kitchens, have their own restaurants, or are home cooks).

Sherlock, yet another British series, is another show I watch whenever and wherever I catch it. In fact, I rewatched two seasons of Sherlock over Netflix, introducing my mom to the series during my 2013 Californian Christmas vacation. If there's a character who's become such a mental exercise to listen to only to be told, sarcastically, that the solution is painfully obvious and elementary... it's Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock. Sorry, Robert Downey, Jr. but Cumberbatch's take on the witty detective is sharper.

Believe it or not, however, my first exposure to dry wit was not in comedies. Disney's animated movie, "Sleeping Beauty", started it all. And I shall quote the conversation between the second baddest witch of them all and her pig-snouted minions...

Maleficent: It's incredible! Sixteen years and not a trace of her!... Are you sure you have searched everywhere? 
Minions:  Yep, yep, everywhere. We all did... We searched mountains and forests, and houses, and, uh, lemme see here... and all the cradles.
Maleficent: Cradle? Cradle?!? Did you hear that, my pet (to the raven)? All these years, they were looking for a baby!
And now, you know.