Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Nina: Hi Nana. Guess what month it is?
Nana: November, and that’s not a guess, it’s a fact.
Nina: It’s Humor month for us Nana. Isn’t that awesome?
Nana: Peachy. So you annoy me, I complain, and everyone thinks that’s funny? I think not! I refuse to participate.
Nina: Non-cooperation tactics, I see. Won't work with me. Besides, you make fun of me too. I just do it better. Laughter is the best medicine Nana.
Nana: So are you a drug peddler now? Anyway humor isn’t so wonderful, if you think about it. Have you ever read Plato’s theories about humor?
Nina: No. Was he a grumpy old man like you Nana? So what’s so bad about humor?
Nana: Well humor is usually used to make fun of someone. Like the ageist jokes you make about me. Sardarji jokes and Polish jokes are racist if you ask me. Women driver jokes and blonde jokes are sexist. These jokes make fun of stereotypes. Insults, stereotyping, bullying and bad behavior hide behind the facade of humor making it more acceptable. We laugh at people because we look down on them and feel superior. Plato considered laughter to be malicious.
Nina: Oh Nana. That’s only one type of humor. Sorry about my ageist jokes. I didn’t know they hurt you. I thought you hate sentimentality, so I show my love in a prickly way. I’d rather cuddle you anyway.
Nana: Never mind. I think I prefer the ageist jokes.
Nina: See, I knew it. Anyway Nana, not all humor is cruel. Personally, I prefer word play and incongruities. There are thrilling because of the sudden shift in perspective. And I love the Eureka moment when you feel good about having figured something out. My favorites are math jokes. Like this one Nana.
Did you hear about the mathematician whose afraid of negative numbers?
He’ll stop at nothing to avoid them.
Get it Nana? Haha, stop at nothing. Haha.
Nana: Well, yeah word play and puns are fun Here’s one I read recently
What do you call a crook going downstairs?
Haha! Hoho. Hee hee hee
Nana: By the way, have you ever read Jokester, by Asimov?
Nina: No. What’s it about?
Nana: It’s a short story about where jokes and puns come from, and why we laugh at jokes and groan at puns. It’s in the collection Earth Is Room Enough.
Nina: They come from our heads Nana. Where else could they come from? Why, what does the story say?
Nana: Well you’ll have to read it to find out, now won’t you?
Nina: I will, I will. I love Asimov stories. But speaking of puns, I just love Last Man Standing No amount of groaning and eye rolling from Mike can stop Venessa from punning. She is my hero.
Nana: Sounds a lot like me and you. What can I do to stop you from yapping?
Nina: How about lending me your copy of Earth Is Room Enough?
This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Lavanya Srinivasan. Her posts can be found here.