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THINK YOU'REFUNNY?

WHY FARTS ARE FUNNY

Eons ago, the first group of cavemen congregated in a communal cave. Perhaps a fire burned, casting the group’s shadows on the wall as they cooked some of their delicious Wooly Mammoth meat or something. After digesting the meal one of the cavemen waited for the perfect moment, when all of his companions stopped grunting about the trivialities about that day, when only the crackling fire quietly echoed in the cave, when people weren’t expecting it, and he loudly relieved the bubbling sensation in his stomach. The fart joke was born. Since then, it has been one of the only complete truths in the universe. Religions have come and gone, new science has continually disproved old science, but the art of flatulence has remained hilarious. But why, exactly? Let’s break it down. Variance of Sound- Yes, farts are funny because they sound funny. But, and this is the most important part, farts are funny because of the amazing variety of sounds that are able to be created by the basic act of blowing an amount of air through a small area. There are only a few variables in play with every piece of flatulence (quantity of gas, pressure, opening at the point of delivery) but that leads to an infinite amount of sounds. Farts are like Forrest Gump’s Mom’s box of chocolates!

The Odor- This is, with reason, the most controversial aspect of the fart. Obviously, depending on the consistency of the person’s diet, this may produce a variety of nausea and nose squirms. But the fact that there is a smell adds to the humor; it is the fart’s punchline. And, perhaps best of all, no one but the Lord above – not even the flatulence provider – knows exactly how each bit of gas is going to affect the olfactory sense. The odor is an algorithm of a person’s own anatomy, what they’ve eaten recently, what stresses are affecting them in their every day life, etc. There is no end to what affects the odor, and no way to predict them. In a way, this is the part of the fart that is most like improvised comedy. Which neatly segues into the next section… Element of Surprise- Improv comedy works – when it does work, that is – because of the element of surprise; the audience is there to see things they don’t expect. The same thing with farts. Sure, there will be a few times when a drunk frat buddy of yours lifts an ass cheek, squints his eyes and throws out a fart … but that’s not where the funny is. The two comedic farts worth mentioning are (a) the shocking surprise fart, in which the person delivering it is as shocked as everyone around them (for my money, the funniest one around) and; (b) the planned sneak attack, in which the deliverer waits for the most opportune time (or inopportune time, if you’re on the receiving end) to deliver it.

A perfect example would be waiting to send it out to the masses during the moment of quiet before the symphony begins. This timing, more than anything else, is what makes it funny. The Taboo Nature- The best jokes are always the ones that delve into the most taboo subjects. Remember that joke about airline food? Of course you don’t! Those jokes have no lasting power. But you’re bound to remember a comedian who delivers a funny monologue about the Pope or the various sex acts they’ve participating in over the years. People like hearing other people joke about things they shouldn’t. (Just look at the success of Howard Stern.) And farts are the same way. Even though farts are, as previously mentioned, the oldest joke in the history of man, they have yet reach a level of popular acceptance in polite society. As a result, whenever they occur, everyone around is subconsciously tickled by forbidden nature of the gas. No Language Barrier- Ask any comedian and they’ll say the biggest factor of whether or not they’re having a good night is the audience. Work in front of a crowd who doesn’t understand your jokes and your best material is only going to receive crickets. But there is no language barrier in the art of flatulence. A fart in Los Angeles is a fart in Beijing is a fart in Uzbekistan. It is, to be poetic for a moment, the common thread that binds us as human beings. It is, in a word, humanity.

The Possibility Of Self-Inflicted Pain - Mel Brooks was once, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall into a sewer and die.” The point is, when someone awful happens to someone else, it’s hilarious. A guy hitting himself with a frying pan or tripping over his own feet has been a main attraction since the first vaudeville performance. And there’s no worse self-inflicted pain than when someone plans own their fart release perfectly, prepares themselves to deliver the punch line, and then tries just a little too hard to let out the gas. The knowing look on their face, a mix of pain, shock, amazement and confusion, is as good as it gets.

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