23 Comments

  1. I can’t remember where I have seen it, but I am sure I have seen this same set up, where someone is in an awkward situation and then, literally, dances their way out of the scene. Exit stage right! In this case, I think the humor is that a spectator danced onto the stage of an actual dance routine (ballet?) and now needs to dance his way back out.

  2. It’s just taking a phrase literally (although I think “got” yourself and “talk” out of is more common than “dance” but “dance” isn’t unheard of is it?).

    I give it credit for having the humor rely heavily on the execution. Herb just *looks* so perturbed.

  3. I think it was in the movie Chicago that someone tap dances around a question while literally tap dancing.

  4. Can a comic really be both a comic we don’t understand and a comic that made us laugh out loud? To be sure, a comic can be funny while having obscure references, but doesn’t the fact that we laughed out loud mean that we got the central point of the comic?

  5. Usual John, yes. I can laugh at something while having no idea why I find it funny, much less knowing why it’s supposed to be funny. Occasionally, once I figure out (or have pointed out to me) why it’s supposed to be funny, I’ll laugh again, possibly harder.

  6. Remindes me of the “silent movie” Monty Python sketch charcter who kept trying to change into his bathing costume only to find himself being seen by others, and eventually somehow wound up on a stage where he finally decided to go with it and do a strip tease number.

  7. I’m with Targuman, the setup seems very familiar, but I can’t remember a specific example. It does sound like something Laurel & Hardy would do, but how would you even go about searching for something like that? (Hmmm, maybe after Project Gutenberg is completed, Google can start indexing every scene from every movie that’s ever been made.)

  8. Usual John: I’ve on at least one occasion sent in a comic as both an LOL and a CIDU. It was so absurd it made me LOL, but I also wasn’t sure if it was just absurd, or if I was missing something.

  9. I don’t think it goes any deeper than substituting “dance” for “talk.” The illustration is just illustrating what it might look like in the middle of that. There are lots of expressions that go that way, but dance is somewhat absurd and therefore, ideally, humorous. How exactly he danced his way into it isn’t really important.

  10. @ Arthur – “…once I figure out (or have pointed out to me) why it’s supposed to be funny, I’ll laugh again…
    That is a neatly telescoped description of the progressive anecdote I cited in the “tantric humor” thread (there are several others there that are well worth re-reading, too).

  11. P.S. In the comic above, the guy on the left just looks horrified, but the anger shown by the woman on the right seems to indicate “Since this a black & white drawing, we might as well put the standard ‘New Yorker‘ caption underneath it: ‘Christ, what an…’.

  12. Kilby, I could resent that comparison, but instead I’ll thank you for reminding me of a bunch of good jokes.

  13. “I can laugh at something while having no idea why I find it funny, much less knowing why it’s supposed to be funny.”

    I think the reason jokes/comics of this ilk are amusing to some people is that they subconsciously attempt to fill in the gaps with their own ideas or questions about the scenario, and as a result come up with some interesting thoughts that make them laugh. Like what 1958fury suggested.

    The much maligned (in my mind) comic ‘cow tools’ is a good example of this, I think. I believe those who found it funny started to question what the odd shaped tools could possible be used for and why was the cow displaying those particular tools. Why that proud, serious look on its face? Who had asked it to display the tools and why? Every answer to those questions was ridiculous and funny…to me at least. Yet many people just got confused and angry at the cartoonist because they couldn’t work out what it all ‘meant’ or as Arthur says, ‘why it’s supposed to be funny.’

    I realise I’m in the minority (a minority that may not even include the cartoonist) but I thought ‘cow tools’ was a great comic and quintessentially Far Side. I was quite shocked later in life to learn that it had caused such a stir.

  14. Stan, Larson said that the problem with Cow Tools was that *one* of them looked vaguely like a real tool, a saw. Therefore, people thought that the *others* must be cow variations of real tools, and couldn’t figure them out. If that one had been drawn differently (or omitted), more people would probably have seen it your way, which, I think, was how it was intended to be seen.

  15. Yea, even so…why would a cow need a saw shaped tool? That question is also funny with a ridiculous answer to me. Hunting for a meaning was unnecessary. I’m on your side with this, there is no need to search for ‘why it’s supposed to be funny’ for it to be funny.

  16. Looking at Cow Tools again, one of them looks *a lot* like a handsaw.

    And here’s Larson’s own words on it:

    I imagined, and subsequently drew, a cow standing next to her workbench, proudly displaying her handiwork (hoofiwork?). The “cow tools” were supposed to be just meaningless artifacts—only the cow or a cowthropologist is supposed to know what they’re used for.

    The first mistake I made was in thinking this was funny. The second was making one of the tools resemble a crude handsaw—which made already confused people decide that their only hope in understanding the cartoon meant deciphering what the other tools were as well. Of course, they didn’t have a chance in hell.

  17. Yea, I find it all strange.

    “The “cow tools” were supposed to be just meaningless artifacts—only the cow or a cowthropologist is supposed to know what they’re used for.” which leads to a number of questions being raised in the mind of the reader, leading to the humour, for me at least.

    As I said earlier, “I realise I’m in the minority (a minority that may not even include the cartoonist) but I thought ‘cow tools’ was a great comic…”

    In any case, I’m tired of debating it with every comic fan on Earth. For me, “I can laugh at (cow tools) while having no idea why I find it funny, much less knowing why it’s supposed to be funny.”

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