Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Thunder Down Under: How do we choose to react to a joke?

By Vic Midyett

How do we choose to react to something we consider rude, politically incorrect, or demeaning to a situation or to ourselves? Do we first ask ourselves some questions? Or do we simply assume that what was said was intended to be demeaning? Was it said as a joke simply for a joke’s sake? Was it meant as a slam of “my kind” or of me in particular?
    I think that if we don’t know the answers to these questions, we are doing ourselves a disservice. As I have said before, OTHERS cannot MAKE US feel. We CHOOSE how we react to others and everything.


I had a brilliantly tough sales manager once explain to me what happens when we “assume.” He said,
When you come to me with part of the research you have done and assume the rest, you also assume what the result is going to be. The actual result is that you more often than not make an “ass” out of “u” and “me” – assume.
    I learned very quickly never to approach him for help on a sale unless I had researched all the variables and asked all the appropriate questions.
    I see two major problems in the breakdown of the initial question, “How do we choose to react?”

  1. We assume we have figured out, in a split second, what the person is really saying. But we make up in our own minds what we think he or she is “really” saying – a big, problematic communication habit, which I consider a flaw in our thinking.
  2. We have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves, by taking ourselves far too seriously, and perhaps by fearing that someone will consider us weak if we don’t conform to the public persona we want to project.
    Political correctness has twisted – dare I say ruined? – many a joke when it is taken too seriously. It’s a joke, for crying out loud! Why do we choose to feel that it is inappropriate to laugh at ourselves? Here, I must say that Aussies are good at laughing at themselves, perhaps too good – I’m thinking about the Yellowtail wine ad shown here during the Super Bowl, in which some Aussies were letting a kangaroo cook their barbecue.

Yellowtail is, to me, an undesirable wine anyway. As is Bud an undesirable beer – to me. Both drinks have far better opposition.
    The Bud ads, however, are always magnificent! My favorite is the “snow ball ad”:

    If anyone thinks I am demeaning Bud beer or Yellowtail wine, consider this. You cannot dispute that my stomach is different from yours, and my taste in wine could be too. Ya think? I’m not being rude, just showing a simple difference. You are welcome to disagree if you like both those brands. It only means we are different, and no more than that. So what? That is a good thing. Do we want to be robots and all think alike? Boring!


I believe that diversity is the stimulus package for more intelligent growth.
    Are there not more serious things to get riled about? – if you are prone to getting riled, that is. I myself consider that, most of the time, it is a pointless reaction unless some balanced thought is first given to the subject. When two sides are genuinely and vehemently opposed, there are usually good reasons to explore and reach a third and better option. However, I digress from a good joke.
    If I have offended anyone with anything I have written I will very happily consider an apology, if I was truly wrong. If it is something minor, trivial, or slightly discoloured, I say, don’t worry, you’ll get over it. The truth is, you probably already have, unless perhaps you think it is your duty to be offended. If so, I encourage you to relax more and enjoy a clever joke or three.


In my opinion, the funniest and best jokes are very short...or ridiculously long, with lots of funny parts spread throughout. And incidentally, some of the funniest and most clever blonde jokes I have heard came from blondes. (Obviously they were blondes who could laugh at themselves.) How would you explain that?
    One old one is: “How do you drown a blonde? – You put a scratch-and-sniff on the bottom of the pool!” I cannot for the life of me figure out what word besides “blonde” to use in this joke – although, of course, it could be “blond” (male). Technically, it would be impossible to stick a scratch-and-sniff on the bottom of a water-filled pool, so who’s the numbskull? It ain’t the blonde/blond in the joke, if you thought it possible! If a good joke doesn’t have to make sense (and most don’t), why does the demographic have to make sense?
    A joke’s only requirement is to be funny and make folks laugh. We tell and listen to jokes as a way to cope with life. Judging some part of a joke to be demeaning is cheating ourselves of relaxing and taking the edge off. A joke does not need to be “correct.” It is not a statement from Wikipedia. It is just a joke. And how we react to it is our choice.


Here is another one, one told by a female Muslim comedian living in the UK, but from the Middle East, whose name escapes me. She said,
When I flew into Heathrow, the customs and immigration person asked me if I shaved. My answer was, “I am a woman of Middle Eastern decent – of course I shave! Three to four times a week!”
    The predominantly Middle Eastern crowd roared! Was she demeaning herself and/or “her kind”? No, she was laughing at herself and “her kind,” in accepting the fact that Middle Eastern women, like the women of many other gene pools, are genetically prone to have facial hair. And she was laughing at the impertinent question. I wish I could ask her whether that really happened, because I doubt it did and guess that she made it up for its “joke value.” A very funny one!
     I rarely share a dull moment with myself. Ha, ha!


Copyright © 2017 by Vic Midyett

1 comment:

  1. It has been pointed out to me that perhaps some have taken this article as a political statement of this time in America's divisive and very sad goings on. This could not be further from the truth. If anything it was a "get away" from it! However, neither was conscious of my thoughts. The term "political correctness" was used ONLY in reference to jokes. NOTHING more!

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