Funny Stuff

When I was a teenager (long, long ago), I loved to read funny stuff. As in: Mad magazine, The Butterfly Kid, transcriptions of Monty Python episodes. The more joke-joke-jokes there were, the better it seemed. Mad was particularly excellent because there were multiple jokes on every page, between panels, running around the margins.

One month ago, Diane said, "Mom, you should read this book." Do you know how often this happens? Never is how often this happens. Except that it happened, so I went with it. Here's what she handed me:


She said, "Come on, Mom, with Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, it has to be good!" (There is something so hopeful and earnest about this sentence that it broke my heart a little, with its high hopes and great expectations and willingness to believe.)

Anyway, I read it. (Duh.) And all I could think was, "Wow, I would have loved this when I was 14."

It's not that I didn't enjoy it now—I did. It's funny. It's funny that the demon car's tape deck tranforms any cassette into a Queen tape if it's left there too long. It's funny that the side of evil takes credit for creating Manchester. It's—well, it's just funny in that every-sentence-is-a-joke-wait-this-one-is-too sort of way. Which I appreciated and enjoyed. I had a pretty excellent time talking to Diana in a back and forth "Wait, what about window salesmen?" "What about the Queen tapes? Do you even know who Freddy Mercury is?" sort of way. Which I would not give up for anything (14-year-olds being somewhat reluctant to engage in prolonged conversation with their parents. Or maybe just mine with me?).

But it made me wonder: what IS it about being 14 that makes you want things to be funny so much? What is it with that joke-joke-joke rythym that is so appealing when you are 14? What is going on?

I like funny things still, but I have different expectations of a novel now. The only joke-joke-joke novel explictly for adults that I know of is 2030 by Albert Brooks, and when I read it I missed all the, you know, the novel stuff: the fully realized characters, the complex story, the angst. I fear I am no longer fully capable of appreciating funny things as I once was, not the way I could in my Monty Python heyday.

What's the deal with this? Normally I would come up with some sort of Half-Baked Idea, but I search my brain and there is nothing. (Uh oh.)

If you know what's going on, please do tell me in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Funny Stuff

  1. Hi, Marcia– Good question. I think the teen years are so overwrought and raw that relentless humor acts as a palliative counterpoint to the torture of day-to-day teen life. But I could be wrong. Or projecting back to my teen years. A million years ago.
    Anyway, it’s interesting to compare teen vs. adult humor preferences. Here’s a link to all of the books I’ve tagged as “humor” on my Only Good Books blog if you would like to see the gamut:


  2. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going on. But reading this made me miss watching Monty Python with friends, and laughing with them. That might be part of the appeal: Realizing you’re sharing something funny with someone you like. Also, it’s a good feeling when you GET the jokes. Also, it’s just lovely to laugh and laugh. I guess grownups generally aren’t that into that so much? The jokes aren’t as fresh anymore? Hmm, not sure here…


  3. I am a naturally over-serious person, but reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants a few years ago made me laugh so hard the tears in my eyes kept me from reading. Non-fiction(ish)is funnier to me now than fiction — I wonder if that’s true for others?


  4. I think when you are 14 you’re confronted with so much teenage angst and strife that a good laugh somehow grounds you, reassures you that maybe, this too shall pass? (or something?) That would be my half-baked idea about it. Laughter = relief from the everyday Drama.


  5. I don’t know about you, but Good Omens is my favorite novel, and has been for twenty years. Cheers me up no end.
    Apparently I never outgrew fourteen.


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