Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An Open Letter to the Citizens of the United States of America

Dear Americans,

I'm writing to you today to talk about humour. Or humor, as you insist on spelling it.

Please don't think that we, the citizens of the rest of the world, don't get your sense of humour. We do, and we love you for it. Mark Twain, the Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Onstad... we get them. We laugh. We relate. Ninety nine percent of the time, when you tell us that something is funny, we'll look at it and agree. This is how you've managed to export Jerry Lewis to France, Woody Allen to Japan, and David Hasselhoff to the Germans*.

However there is an exception, and frankly, given our willingness to laugh with you at everything else you produce, we suspect that this is a problem with your perception of funny, not ours.

Americans, please note. THE. THREE. STOOGES. ARE. NOT. FUNNY.

Why do you laugh? One of them says "wibblewibblewibble", another pokes someone in the eye, and a guy says "Nyuk nyuk nyuk" for some reason. That's more or less it, as far as we can tell. It has a quaint vaudvillian charm, but it generates, if anything, a wry smile, not the gales of laughter and awed reverence with which you greet them. Is there something we've not been told about them? Is there some sort of secret comedic Rosetta Stone which suddenly reveals their true genius, but which is only shown to Americans? Is there something in your water? Is it some sort of hysteria that can be traced back to an intense but otherwise private national trauma circa 1922?

It wouldn't be so bad if it was just The Three Stooges themselves, but this baffling worship saturates every part of your media. Otherwise brilliantly gifted comics will choke up doing homages to these talentless curiosities, and declare themselves unable to match them. Frankly, it's unsettling. It's the equivalent of Alan Greenspan insisting that for really inspired economic leadership, we should be looking to a slightly overripe mandarin he found in his desk drawer.

It's not doing you any favours, America. To continue the Greenspan metaphor, how much would you trust his competency if he started waving a piece of fruit at you and exclaiming, "This mandarin! This mandarin knows! I am but a faint shadow of the mandarin's deep and citric wisdom!"

To be honest, it makes your contributions to global comedy start to look like a freak series of unlikely but serendipitous accidents, and not a continuous output based on a solid understanding of what it means to be funny. It's a flaw, and it's a deep one.

I trust that the American spirit of self-appraisal and innovation will eventually help you get over this strange and abberant fixation. I really do. I have faith in you, America, and I have an optimistic hope that one day you can get past this, consign The Three Stooges to the footnotes of comedic history where they belong, and get back to what's important to all of the residents of planet Earth; international peace, goodwill, and laughing at guys getting whacked in the nuts.



* although admittedly, we're not convinced that the Germans understand that he's meant to be funny.


Anonymous Bart said...

Finally someone dares to bring out the truth!

Next week: Jerry Lewis

3:38 PM  
Blogger MC Etcher said...

Most of us don't think The Stooges are funny either. It's just old folks who think so.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, about 50% of us don't find the Stooges funny. We're called women.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous manprano said...

Dear Blandwagon,

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We look forward to processing further concerns of your in the future.

Thank you,

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Americans gave us The Big Lebowski (contains some coarse language). Australia's contribution? Hey Dad!

1:44 AM  
Blogger Project WANNABE said...

Sorry, but I have to disabuse you of two crippling misconceptions.

(1) We Americans take ourselves extremely seriously. We have NO sense of humor, and we're proud of it. The few successes of US humor are entirely the work of a few misfit weirdos (Consider your own examples, and compare them to normal Americans. We are simply not a nation of Woody Allens, to put it mildly.). Most of us have no idea how to be funny, though we insist on making disastrous attempts all the time. We strongly disapprove of those few Americans who accidently figure it out.

(2) Three Stooges are very, very funny.

4:55 AM  

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