Course Jesting Fart
December 3, 2012 § 5 Comments
Hi all! I got lots done in my little holiday from blogging—finished the latest draft of a novel I’ve been working on, survived another Whole Foods Thanksgiving, read a few books, and even spent a couple of days doing absolutely nothing for the first time in a long while—but I also started to feel disconnected, so it is good to be back here, reading through all the great posts I’ve missed and organizing all the thoughts I’ve been having for some posts of my own.
Checking up on the blog today, though, I realized that, in a way, I never really left: even with no new activity, my posts stay up online, and people continue to find their way to my words. It isn’t anywhere close to the traffic I get from you kind followers when I’m posting regularly, but there are at least a few new readers trickling in every day.
Which isn’t to say that I’m steadily amassing an enormous audience of people interested in the intersections of literature and humor; a few views come in from links to my story at Versus or searches for my name, but the majority come from searches that have little or nothing to do with my blog—and they probably leave soon after they realize this isn’t what they are looking for. For example, one of my latest readers found my post “Being Married, Being Hanged” after googling “course jesting fart.” Whether or not they meant to search for a coarse jest about flatulence, they certainly weren’t looking for my ruminations on G.K. Chesterton.
Because of the blog’s title, most of the random views I get seem to come from people trying to find jokes. Some searchers on the lookout for general humor were brought to The Oldest Jokes in the World by queries for:
short ice breaker jokes, ice breaker jokes, ice breaking jokes on a blog, work jokes short & ice breaker, icebreaker jokes for strangers, literary icebreakers, joke ice breakers, great ice breakers jokes
Others were searching for the genesis of humor in general or their favorite tropes in particular:
oldest joke in the world, jokes literary, oldest jokes, the oldest satire, oldest dunce joke, the oldest ole and lena jokes
Since I try my best to include examples in the discussions, the most satisfied of these joke-shoppers were probably those looking for jokes from a specific work I’ve written about:
marx brothers jokes, moby dick jokes, funny trailer park boys jokes, gene wilder jokes, richard pryor jokes, chico marx jokes, the marx brothers jokes, moby dick joke, chesterton jokes, marx brother jokes, newsroom jokes, jokes aaron sorkin, aaron sorkin jokes, jokes about aaron sorkin
Most searches, though, are from people looking for jokes on incredibly specific subjects:
jokes using hegemony, jokes on misunderstanding resulting from language barriers, puns about circles, armpit jokes, needlepoint jokes, jokes about community gardens, biology puns, hanged jokes, potluck jokes, pot luck jokes, intimation jokes, solstice jokes, jokes about trailer parks, battle field jokes, trailer park jokes, whale jokes, jokes about show and tell, jokes about humorlessness, hedonistic jokes, but all seriousness jokes, facetious jokes, summer reading jokes, community garden jokes, jokes about my seriousness, red bird jokes, hammock jokes, jokes on the word theme, elements of literature fun joke, jokes about summer reading, pun on the word glow, potluck joke, jokes about plagiarism, hear no evil jokes, “see no evil” joke humor, hilarious hammock puns, what were you doing up so early joke, jokes on subtext, midway jokes, joke hammock, facetious joke, funny special olympics jokes, best walnut joke, walnut joks, walnut jokes
It is sort of fun to try and imagine the situations these googlers must be in, hours away from their keynote adress to the American Walnut Grower’s association without a good pun with which to break the ice.
But I can’t say I feel that bad that nobody finds that perfect joke about plagiarism to steal for their own uses here. I’ve always preferred wit to prepared humor; a feeble pun, as long as it is cracked on the fly, will get a bigger laugh out of me than the best joke recited from the best joke book in the world. As a young man, I always felt joke books, such as the pamphlet to the left (one of the images that comes up in a search for course jesting fart), were cheating: they were for people too dumb to be open to the humor that arose spontaneously around them.
Yet, I’ve come to question this prejudice lately for several reasons. First, literary humor is as a rule composed, yet I often find it funny, especially when it is able to simulate a sense of wit and spontaneity. Second: as I get older and find myself reaching out into more diverse social settings, I realize not everyone enjoys getting cut up in a wit-fight, nor is every such fight fair, and as a result, a bit of stock humor can often serve as a kind social gift. I think my next project (after one more draft of the novel) will be about jokes, and I’m actually looking forward to diving into some good joke books as research.
As a result, my posts of the next couple month will focus on this dichotomy between the written joke and spontaneous wit. And in between these more serious discussions, I plan on mining the search history for joke subjects and will try to write some of my own, posting them here so that those looking for a great joke for their needlepoint circle won’t need to look any further.