For many there’s nothing more humourless than insisting on analysing humour. E.B. White famously said: “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” I can agree to an extent, to begin over-analysing why something is funny can end up sucking the humour out of it. On the other hand, I think that when we find something funny, we are making those connections in our minds anyway. Humour is often about drawing attention to the familiar, or finding a common understanding, and so to dismiss laughter as a simple reaction that isn’t the result of any thought does comedy, and the people who enjoy it, a disservice. I would argue that we laugh because we understand why something is funny. It’s strange that White’s oft-quoted take on analysing humour (and who knows how serious he was being about it anyway) is both humorous and seemingly worthy of analysis. Even the language choice of ‘the frog dies of it’ is a great punch-line. So, it turns out, for better or worse, that I am a person that is interested in analysing it. As well as being interested in humour for humour’s sake, I’m also interested in comedy that uses humour to say something, and I think almost all comedy does.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide series is as silly as it is smart, and as thought-provoking as it is humorous. Adams chose to deal with our species’ position in the Universe from the very opening of the first novel in this series. Read the rest of this entry