Funny Bone Origin Story

 

It didn't take long for me to find my love for humor and comedy. I have always loved to laugh and make people laugh. Only recently have I started writing stand up material. The writing process has been reflective. What are the nerves of my funny bone, where did it come from? What did I find funny and why? Although, it's influenced by many factors its origin is in cartoons. The common thread exaggeration, weirdness, and a dash of “what the hell was that”.

The cartoon episodes I selected as examples took place in the Golden Era. Before the current era of the Adventure Times and Steven Universes. The Golden Era was a glorious time for cartoons spanning between the early 1990s to the early 2000s. Many Saturday mornings were spent crushing bowls of cereal. There are many examples I could choose, but these three are seared in my memory.


Dexter's Laboratory - The Muffin King

This show has a number of gems but, The Muffin King is one of my faves. In this episode, Dexter’s mom makes muffins, which the dad is obsessed with. While the mom steps out of the house, Dexter and DeeDee are tasked to fend off their dad from the muffins. What makes this episode so great, is that it takes a simple concept and exaggerates the hell out of it. “How much do I love muffins? What I am willing to do to get them?" Asking a simple question and letting the imagination run wild. The more exaggeration the more likely it will be funny to me. It's the reason behind one of my favorite SNL sketches Teacher Fell Down.

 

The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy  - My Fair Mandy

Billy and Mandy was right up my alley, weird kid, weird show. On this episode - Mandy, a morbid dark spirited girl, enters a beauty pageant. This episode had some classic lines like “Putting makeup on you is like putting diamonds on dudu." And coupled exaggeration with weirdness. The episode goes completely off the rails with a strange ending, that leaves one thinking that it was stupid or embracing the absurdity with laughter. Also, its use of sound effects added extra laughs that played a major role in its overall level of funny. Portlandia is a great concoction of weirdness and even plays into the overuse of sound effect. Probably because they don’t want to pay actors for a speaking role, regardless it is still funny.

 

The Sifl and Olly Show - United States of Whatever, Crescent Fresh, and literally everything

Not really a cartoon or in the Golden Era but I had to mention it. Probably should not have been watching MTV but thank god for older siblings. The show had a simple concept and that's what made it so damn creative. It was a variety show, hosted by two sock puppets accompanied by a cast of characters. This show had a secret element, that "what the hell is going on but I can't stop watching" element. It taught me the importance of timing, tone and voice, and the art of total tomfoolery. Sometimes funny can't be explained it’s just a gut reaction. Honestly, I can not think of another show to compare this to. Sifl and Olly was a testament to a certain time, back when MTV was great and wasn't concerned about being hip and cool it simply was.


My sense of humor is reflected in how I present myself and the work I produce. The show examples along with others served as my foundation for what I find amusing whether its the exaggeration, randomness, absurdity, or just finding the beauty in something making no sense. There are all showcase imagination and creativity.




Katelen Thomas