CSotD: Funny Thoughts and Vice-Versa

I wasn’t looking for anything too brain-involved today, and so the predictable foolishness of Sherman’s Lagoon (AMS) seemed just right. But even the funny stuff involves thought.

Example: “Predictable foolishness” is different than repetitive or monotonous foolishness. There are all sorts of strips which simply repackage the same few gags in different settings.

“Predictable foolishness,” however, seems more participatory. The best example was on the Bob Newhart Show. Bob would tell Emily that he didn’t want any distractions and the audience would begin a mental count-down, knowing that Howard was about to burst through the door.

I suppose the difference is in the execution and that other people are equally as delighted when Mom gets breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day and finds a disastrous kitchen in its wake. But the messy kitchen is the repetitive, monotonous punchline while Howard’s entrance was only the cue for an absurd dialogue to follow.

With Sherman, as with Howard, you laugh at the initial gag, but recognize that it’s only a set-up for what is coming.

I realize much of my own audience is not old enough to know Howard Borden, given that the (real) Bob Newhart Show went off the air 45 years ago. Which ties in with the fact that it is the grandfather in the Buckets (AMS) who is complaining about these dang youngsters and their tiny phones.

There are all sorts of reasons to prefer a full-sized screen, starting with the idea of sharing an experience instead of being cocooned in your own little world, but that ship sailed long ago. There was a time, O Best Beloved, when the whole family gathered around the electronic hearth, but about the time televisions were getting bigger and bigger, they were also getting cheaper and cheaper.

I’m not just a grandfather but a great-grandfather, and remember when my generation of parents debated whether kids should be allowed to have TVs in their rooms.

After which it was computers.

After which to hell with it.

Bub — the husband in Betty (AMS) — is in the generation that barely remembers Bob Newhart, and if Bub’s not quite a digital native, he’s at least of an age not to rebel against tiny screens and ephemeral entertainment.

Speaking of ephemeral entertainment, I am absolutely flummoxed by craft shows. I like local art shows, with potters and woodworkers and weavers and painters, but they need to keep out the decoupage and kitschy wall plaques to attract my interest.

In any case, it strikes me that Rubin and Markstein might have held this Daddy’s Home (Creators) for a few more weeks until football season is over, since the classic conflict in that “confusing me with you” so often involves, “Since you’re wrapped up in something I don’t care about, why don’t we do something you don’t care about instead?”

Which vaults it into the “if you loved me” category.

On a far more weighty level, Between Friends (KFS) has been featuring a conversation between single, childless Maeve (No, it’s Kim, who is also married w/ a college kid. See comments) and married Susan, whose daughter is off at college but only recently.

Their discussion begins here and is worth following. For my part, having spent most of our kids’ early years as the at-home parent and then the last several as a single 24/7 dad, it never occurred to me that I was sacrificing anything, but perhaps it was so revolutionary and thus voluntary that I wasn’t.

Your mileage may indeed vary, which is a hallmark of the strip, and, now that I think of it, a lot of the strips that give you a chuckle while raising more interesting questions seem to be done by women.

There is a dissertation, if it hasn’t already been written, in comparing the introspective humor of strips like Between Friends, For Better or For Worse, Pajama Diaries, etc.

Juxtaposition of Snug Harbor Zen

Which is certainly not to suggest that male cartoonists can’t raise fascinating questions, and another dissertation might include Wallace the Brave (AMS), along with Calvin and Hobbes and the best of the Far Side clones.

I would love to go to the Snug Harbor Elementary School’s 20th reunion and see how the gang turned out. I can imagine Spud having found some niche that propelled him into astonishing success, whether or not it improved his social skills, while I’d like to think that Rose had unclenched and learned to please herself instead of aiming for theoretical excellence.

Both kids being better off for having had Wallace to rattle their cages regularly.

Deflocked (AMS) offers a predictable laugh while raising a particularly fascinating issue: The changes in TV commercials over the past few decades.

While Mamet is correct that junk food spots invariably feature fit people, I’ve seen plus-size women begin to appear in non-food commercials, along with a large proportion of visible minorities, the latter being a good thing not simply for purposes of fair representation but because it drives white supremacists wild.

Two excellent goals, only one of them intentional.

But if M&Ms has revealed itself to be particularly chickenshit in catering to the fascisti, Madison Avenue has, overall, been treading very carefully even as they add more representation to their commercials.

There was a time when the default was white men — sometimes in lab coats — doling out advice to white housewives.

The emergence of feminism changed that to include far more (white) women holding up the ol’ Vitameatavegamin bottle or extolling the virtues of various laundry detergents, often to other (white) women, sometimes to (white) men.

Calgon did sneak in an Asian woman, though in a stereotypical setting, and with a male announcer providing the voice-over.

At the moment, far more commercials feature visible minorities, but there’s a certain walking-on-eggs involved. Minorities can offer advice to other minorities, or to white folks, but I haven’t seen many commercials in which a white housewife talks up detergents to a minority housewife.

Sidney Poitier was once asked why he always (to that point) played terribly upright, positive roles. He said true equality would not be achieved until black folks were used to sell mouthwash and deodorant.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but Old Spice does make the M&M people look like the cowards they are:

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Funny Thoughts and Vice-Versa

  1. I’ve been seeing more same-gender couples on YT adverts, particularly Science Diet (strangely enough). Very pleased to see that.

  2. Mr. Walker, thank you for the Daily Kos link. It’s flippin’ hilarious.

    I’m hoping Ms. Rudolph will be interacting with the spokescandies and throwing some shade Tucker’s way, but the odds are pretty low that that’s what we’ll be seeing.

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