Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Theory of Humor

Providing a glimpse into the mysteries of the American mind for British readers, George Saunders wrote a column entitled "American Psyche" for the Guardian, 2004-8.

Here is a piece on humor from June 2008:

"Let's attempt to derive a theory of humour. Enabled by our theory, everyone could be funny, not just people who are actually funny. And since being funny is an asset - in business, in romance, when one has broken the law - it's hardly fair that "funny people" enjoy a monopoly.

"Let's begin with animals. Which animals are funny? Not an eagle. Unless the eagle is wearing a top hat. And walking stiffly through a supermarket, muttering grumpily to itself about how the world used to be a better place. The addition of a top hat makes any animal funnier. Put a top hat on an already funny animal (a pig, say), and the effect is hilarious, especially if the pig topples over for no reason and can't get up. And the eagle in the top hat stiffly steps over the fallen pig, muttering further reactionary platitudes. Then the pig puts out one of its stumpy pink legs, and down goes the eagle.

More in the Guardian:

Saunders visits UAlbany today: