Thatâ€™s Not Funny! Or Is It?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Does a sense of humor change as we age? Or does it change as we allow ourselves Â to become freer or more comfortable with who we are?
Iâ€™ve written both suspense and romantic comedy. Actors say that comedy is harder than dying, and as a writer, I definitely believe itâ€™s harder than â€œkilling.â€ The problem with writing romantic comedy is that humor is subjective. One personâ€™s â€œfunnyâ€ is anotherâ€™s â€œappalling.â€
For example, Â when Â romantic Â comedy Â and Â chick-lit was just becoming the new trend in New Yorkâ€™s publishing circles in the late 90â€™s, several twenty-something Â editors described books they liked and what they liked about the humor in them. One 25-year-old editor told a group of women authors how hilarious Â it was that the hero in the story impressed the heroine by pulling on a condom over Â his face. The authors didnâ€™tÂ find it funny. Â At all. They Â were Â appalled Â that Â the hero Â would Â act Â so Â unheroically, even in a comedy. Personally, I didnâ€™t find Â it that amusing either, but maybe I would have if Iâ€™d read the actual passage. Maybe, just maybe, something was lost in the editorâ€™s telling of the story. Even so, I was in my mid-30â€™s and didnâ€™t really find it that entertaining, but just to Â appease Â my Â editorâ€™s sense Â of Â humor Â in Â my Â second comedy, I did make some reference to fellatio not being an opera. She didnâ€™t get it.
In the early 90â€™s, a writer friend tried to explain why women in their 20â€™s would definitely find condom humor funny. Women in their 40â€™s, she saidâ€”she was older than that, thenâ€”wouldnâ€™t find it as amusing and what women in Â their Â 40â€™s Â would Â find Â funny Â would Â be appalling to women in their 20â€™s. She said that once you reach your 40â€™s, you take yourself less seriously and can start to have fun. I was a few weeks older than 30 then, and the example she gave me was one I foundâ€¦appalling.
She told the story of a woman whoâ€™d been shy in herÂ 20â€™s but really knew who she was by the time she reached her mid-40â€™s. (I Â suspect this woman may have been the narrator of the story.) The woman went to see her gynecologist for her annual checkup, and as usual, he was running several hours behind. She eventually was called into an exam room where she was told to don a dinner napkin of a â€œrobeâ€ and wait patiently with nothing else on until the GYN and his nurse could come back for the exam.
She waited. And waited. And waited. She read a magazine or two. She got up and stretched, which was hard to do while wearing nothing but a dinner napkin. She looked in the trash can. She moved the latex glove dispenser. She examined her teeth in the mirror. Â She Â read some more. She got bored. Â Really bored. Â You know Â whatÂ they Â say about idle hands and the devilâ€™s workshopâ€¦.
When the doctor and nurse came in some time later, she was reclining patiently on the exam table with just the dinner Â napkin Â barely covering Â her Â perimeters. Â As Â the GYN Â grabbed Â a Â speculum Â and sat Â down, Â he Â gasped. â€œWhatâ€™s this?â€
Carefully, he Â removed Â something Â while Â she Â feigned surprise. A latex glove.
â€œWhatâ€™s that doing in there?!â€ he exclaimed, Â his face scrunched up in shock.
â€œI have no idea,â€ the woman said. â€œYou must have left it in there last time.â€
A woman Â in Â her Â 20â€™s, Â my Â friend Â explained, Â would never consider doing that to her persistently Â tardy gynecologist. But a Â woman in her 40â€™s would.
At the time she told the story, I was appalled. Now? I think itâ€™s hilarious.