For all your April Fool's Day greetings!
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But are we laughing at these soup jokes? No. They just aren't that funny. Really, let's be honest: is there a knee slapper in the bunch?
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(e-SoupSong 12: April, 2001)
ONCE UPON A TIME, a waiter brought a bowl of soup to a customer...and it had a fly in it.
What was it doing in the bowl? "Looks like the breaststroke, sir."
Badaboom. Not very funny.
What if it's a dead fly? Then the waiter says, "Well, you asked for something with a little body in it." Or, "It must have committed insecticide." Or, "Yes, sir, flies aren't very good swimmers."
And what if the customer merely exclaims, "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup!" Then that witty waiter might say: "Don't worry, sir, the spider in the bread roll will get it." Or, "That's possible, the chef used to be a tailor." Or, "Now that fly knows a good soup." Or, "No, sir, that's the essential vitamin bee." Or, "Don't worry, it's not hot enough to burn him."
Worse and worse. Are you detecting a pattern here? These jokes are not funny.
So let's change genre. How about soup jokes that insult the cook?
Okay, you need a break. I know if I don't make you laugh soon, I'm going to lose you. Let's try soup jokes that exaggerate.
Here's two that concern soup etiquette, from opposite sides of the social spectrum:
As Melvin Helitzer writes in Comedy Writing Secrets, there's really not all that much literature on the psychology of comedy. Aristotle studied it and Socrates debated it. Hobbes reflected on it in the 17th century. Darwin and Bergson wrote theories of humor in the 19th century; Freud, Eastman, Koestler, and Woody Allen tried to explain it in the 20th. Now that we're in the 21st century, of course, we've gotten much much smarter. Consider the recent Alden-Mukherjee-Hoyer study on "The Effects of Incongruity, Surprise and Positive Moderators on Perceived Humor in Television Advertising":
Although affect-inducing factors such as playfulness have been discussed in the academic literature (cf. Nilsen 1993), incongruity theorists have tended to emphasize cognitive influences and processes in their models of humor (e.g., Raskin 1985). Paralleling other contemporary research streams that have emphasized the role of affect (cf. Oliver 1994), this paper is one of the first in advertising to report significant roles for affect-inducing moderators along the incongruity pathway to humorous evaluation (see also Speck 1987). As evidenced by a higher beta coefficient in Table 4, ad warmth appears to play a particularly important role in this regard. Future theorists will need to validate these relationships and determine optimal levels of each variable.Now that's funny.
Basically, humor theory says we laugh--that incredibly human and endearing response--for 8 reasons:
Here's my theory: Soup gives off too many warm fuzzies. It's the ultimate comfort food--warming, evocative, thrumming with memories of mom at the stove on a cold day...special dinners...feeling good. It takes us from cold and hunger and illness and sets us right. It's just not a good set up for those extreme contrasts, that angst, prejudice, and paradox that genuinely set us off laughing.
Okay, let's hear one from the master of crude and outrage, Milton Berle:
Checking the menu, a restaurant customer ordered a bowl of vegetable soup. After a couple spoonsful, he saw a circle of wetness right under the bowl on the tablecloth. He called the waitress over and said, "It's all wet down here. The bowl must be cracked." The waitress said, "You ordered the vegetable soup, didn't you?" "Yes," he replied. "Well, maybe it has a leek in it."
Badaboom. Think "soup joke"--think oxymoron.
For the full unfunniness of soup jokes on this April Fool's Day, run don't walk to www.soupsong.com/sjokes.html.
Best regards, Pat Solley
p.s. Prove me wrong! Show me! Send me your soup jokes (in any language, but with an English explanation, please). If any make me laugh out loud, I will immediately send Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup ballpoint pens as prizes to the lucky winners.
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