Why is that funny? and why le rire (laughter) est important

Impropriety is the soul of wit.

– W. Somerset Maugham

I always thought it was brevity…at least, that’s the saying in our house. But this version put a new twist on how to be witty, something I like my literary characters* to be, even if when I’m not.



W. Somerset Maugham

William Shakespeare

We all know that humor is important in life: Laughing makes us happy, and even provides health benefits. Being quick-witted is admired, though we don’t have to be quick  – or really smart – to be witty, or witty, to be smart. But looking for humor in life (and finding it) seems necessary and very important. Through it, “joy happens,” I dare say.

Inside jokes aside, I like laughing about things that others laugh about, and I don’t find it fun to laugh at another’s expense. Maybe because I’m a mom, sarcasm is out, too. I prefer the positive side of humor, not the negative. I love it when something unexpected and silly – maybe just a phrase or a word – makes me laugh uncontrollably (and may even bring tears)..and I love it when others join in. Typically, after several minutes – afraid that I’m going off the deep end – one of my kids brings me back to reality (“Okay, Mom, it’s not that funny.”)

So – why is “that” funny? Different people might have different views: some like slapstick humor, and some prefer the sophisticated kind. But there’s a lot in between. Take Carol Burnett, my favorite comedienne: watching her television show in the 1970s, I knew I would always find her funny, and some synonyms of the word “impropriety” remind me of her humor (goof, gaffe, inelegance and faux pas).

When I started dating (later),  if a guy couldn’t make me laugh, I couldn’t stay interested. It wasn’t that he had to crack jokes or never be serious. But he had to not take himself (or life) too seriously – especially since I had have a tendency to do so. Eventually, I found a partner whose sense of humor was the one for me, and it’s been a vital part of our relationship: I don’t know how we could have gotten this far in life together, without it. Fortunately, he doesn’t need me to make him laugh (though I do, at times, which is a bonus), but he still likes to make me laugh.

And usually without too much impropriety…

* for example, Lisa, one of Jenny’s roommates in my new novel MAKE THAT DEUX.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: