Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I don't get it

I was prowling around in a used book store, a favorite meno haunt (Halloween is coming, so please note clever insertion of the word haunt,) when i was stopped by the Employee Recommendation table.

There was a blurb about the book Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. The blurb went something like this, "Hysterically funny yarn about growing up dirt poor in Catholic Ireland. You will laugh right along with Frank as he grows up." Without regard to the ending of this sentence with a preposition, i couldn't believe this "review".

I have read this book. I cannot say that the word hysterical ever occurred to me whilst i was reading. Wry, self-deprecating, horrible...all those might have come to mind. It makes me wonder if the person who wrote this even read the book. Or did i miss something?

There was this movie, quite a while ago, called
After Hours, starring Griffin Dunne and Teri Garr, and maybe some other people. It's one of the most uncomfortable movies i have ever seen. It's the story of this man just trying to get home in New York, and everything weird that can happen does. I have nightmares like this movie, why would i want to watch it on the silver screen?

One night, when we lived in Colorado, we went to another couple's house for dinner and the after dinner entertainment was, yes, you guessed it, After Hours. The couple happily told us that it was hysterically funny. So i had to watch it again. Ugh.

I believe i have a reasonable sense of humor, maybe even a whacked out one, but i was unable to find the humor in either Angela's Ashes or After Hours.

I am curious if you have ever puzzled over something that was described to you as funny, and wondered what the hell was funny about it.


thailandchani said...

Agreed on both! I liked Angela's Ashes but didn't find it particularly amusing. In fact.. no.. "amusing" is not a word I'd use.

Granted, my sense of humor is a bit bizarre. I like wacky twists of words and thoughts. I like wit. Most situational stuff doesn't particularly make me laugh.. especially when it's at someone's expense.

Scott from Oregon said...

I love situational stuff at people's expense. I've become addicted to these short vids. You can't just watch just one--

Anonymous said...

most stuff that passes as funny is, in my opinion, just stupid.

I laughed through my tears in Angela's Ashes, because what else can you do?

Stucco said...

I think when I recommend Billy Connolly to people, I cause this kind of problem.

flutter said...

funny? Really? Wow. uh, no....

ms chica said...

Sorry, I haven't read the book or seen the movie you mentioned.

Yeah, I've puzzled, but it goes both ways. I've left plenty a people aghast with my sense of humor. I enjoy irony, but so many people perceive irony as being punished by the hand of a higher power.

Now, I'm checking for prepositions in my comment ;)

Lynn said...

It happens to me alot. Other people think something is funny, and I don't 'get it' and conversely I think something is funny, and am the only one to laugh (sometimes hysterically) Oh well. But I definitely did not laugh while reading Angela's Ashes.

amusing said...

I'm always going to movies way after the hoopla and hype is over and I often leave wondering what all the fuss was about....

The humor thing I will have to ponder. I think people often tell me things are funny that I don't find funny at all, but it's just because I have a different sense of humor. Call me quirky amusing.

Gordo said...

I share Sonny's problem. My cousin and her husband yelled at me for recommending Shaun of the Dead.

Dick said...

I don't know either the book nor the movie you have mentioned but agree that what some people think is funny is sure different than my opinion. That seems to often with movies that I am trying to decide if I want to rent when I read some of the descriptions printed on their cases.

You mentioned getting around in NY. Those problems can happen anywhere but I sure am growing fond of my Garmina. We brought along our Garmin GPS device and it seems to know Maui quite well. It is a big help when you are in a new place. We brought our own along as Budget car rentals wanted $10 a day to have one to go along with a car and it looks like they just give you the same basic device that we have. She gives me directions in a female voice, so the name, Garmina.

Mona Buonanotte said...

I've seen After Hours, and held my breath throughout, 'cause I just wanted the guy to Get Home Already.

Angela's Ashes was a laugh-riot! No, I'm joking, I have the book but can't get past the photo of the sad little boy on the cover. Sniff.

Mrs. Chili said...

I've neither read Angela's Ashes nor seen After Hours, so I can't really comment on your experiences with them, though the impression I've gotten from what I've heard from people who've read the book is that there's really nothing funny about it.

The experiences I'm having lately with what's funny (or not) have been largely generational. My students think that Dane Cook is the be-all, end-all of comedy, and I think the guy's a moron. They're also in love with things like Dumb and Dumber, which we actually went to see but only stayed through because we were seated behind four fourteen year old boys who were having the time of their lives. We laughed at THEM laughing at the movie - we thought the film was an utter waste of the price of the tickets and the time we'd never get back....

Unknown said...

I cried like a baby when I read that book so I'm just as confused as you are.
If there's something wrong with your sense of humour then there must be something wrong with mine as well, because you crack me up.

SUEB0B said...

I told my friends that "Terms of Endearment" was hysterical. I hated the Debra Winger character and didn't really feel bad when she died, so it didn't occur to me that it was a SAD movie to some people. They were so mad at me.

Angela's Ashes was sad upon sad, until Frank started stealing from the crabby old lady at the end - which kind of gave me a little smile.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the book review. it was such a beautiful, sad and depressing story, but not even close to being hysterical.

however, I am the person who thinks things are funny, when other people don't. I absolutely ADORED napoleon dynamite, little miss sunshine, the royal tenenbaums, life aquatic with steve zissou...just to name a few. most of the people in my reach thought they were all among the stupidest movies ever made. so, I guess I can't be too objective about your subject here.

I can assure you, though, that I would not have written such an odd review for angela's ashes.

Anonymous said...

While agree that there is a lot of sadness in Angela's Ashes - and it's certainly not "hysterically funny" by any stretch - I do think the author's optimism and kind-hearted humor shine through the bleakness of his early years. I actually was fortunate enough to meet Mr. McCourt in person some years ago, and he is equally warm and self-deprecating in person. I really enjoyed Angela's Ashes despite its dark moments. It's somewhat of a stretch I suppose but stick with me - it's like Anne Frank - you know that something terrible is happening and yet the author retains an essential faith in the ultimate goodness of people. Blind optimism, youthful naivete, whatever... it's the last line of the book that still sticks with me as it's central message - "Isn't America grand? 'Tis!" Which of course brings me to his second work, 'Tis, which wasn't nearly as compelling or coherent as his first, but to me was a decent read anyway simply because of his marvelous story-telling.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for a good tale.

peevish said...

I liked the movie After Hours enough to buy the videotape, back when it was fairly new. I think the discomfort is part of the fun. I don't know why, but maybe we laugh because we are so happy all that stuff isn't happening to us.

My husband can't stand to watch Curb Your Enthusiasm for this reason. The palpable sense of unease drives him mad. I guess you either enjoy watching the train wreck, or you don't.

Mother of Invention said...

There is nothing funny about Angela's Ashes. I've never seen that movie or heard about it. Must have been hard to stay quiet or pretend to laugh at it at your friend's!

Anonymous said...

I recently read a blurb on the cover of a book I was buying that said it was hysterically funny, or something like that. And I really didn't find it funny. I thought there were parts that were amusing, but it was filled with sadness and angst and ended in a school shooting. Not so funny. Of course, the quote was from Stephen King, so there's that.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that After Hours is one of my all-time favorite films. What does that say about me?!

Princess in Galoshes said...

Lame. I feel like employee recommend tables are some of the most overrated marketing that is out there. Gag.

That said, I tend to be snotty about my humor. I don't like a lot of "funny" movies these days... like pretty much anything Ben Stiller is in. I *get* why people think it's funny, but humiliating situations in my mind are just that, humiliating. I can't get past that to see the funny.

meno said...

chani, i am with you, humor at someone else's expense is rarely funny to me. But not never.

scott, you are a bad bad person. This made me smile too. Although i did watch just one.

de, yes, that is often my opinion too. I think Frank McCourt's humor is evident in his book, but i was floored at the description of it as hysterical.

stucco, Billy Connolly? I'll have to find out who he is.

flutter, no, not funny. Sometimes humorous, looking at an unfunny situation.

ms. chica, eh, i end sentences with prepositions often.

lynn, i had a freind once tell me that i didn't find the bit of slapstick that we were watching funny because i am arrogant. I should have asked her more about what she meant.

amusing, i feel that way about many movies too. I hate crowds so i am usually seeing popular movies right before they leave town or on DVD.

gordo, i liked that movie!

dick, you are SUCH A GEEK! And i mean that in the nicest way. The Mister takes his Garmin with us when we travel too. It was a huge help when we went to DC.

mona, that's exactly how i felt. I just kept wanting it to be over.

mrs. chili, i am so old that i don't even know who Dane Cook is. Sounds like that might be a good thing. At least you found something to amuse you at the movie!

wng, i read it in horrified fascination. The scene where he is licking the newspaper for the salt flavor because he was so hungry is etched in my mind.

suebob, i understand the urge to laugh in the face of deliberatly maudlin things. I hate being manipulated so blatantly. I don't remember laughing at that movie, but i did not cry. I rolled my eyes.

holly, i liked all of those movies except Napoleon Dynamite, which i didn't hate, i just thought "huh."

josh, i would agree with you on this. I have seen him twice, and was able to speak to him on one of those occasions. He has a lovely Irish burr. I also liked Angela's Ashes better than 'Tis. I should probably read "Teacher Man too.

peevish, ah HA! you are one of those people. I guess i am too much of a control freak to like feeling uncomfortable.

moi, i just sat there and endured. No laughing issued from me. The Mister liked the movie and knew that i hated it so i think he enjoyed me having to sit through it again, just a bit.

biotdl, huh, how odd. I wonder if hysterically funny is one of those phrases that gets people to buy books.

Mignon said...

I'm with the Princess. Humiliating humor is just plain humiliating to me. After Hours was similar. And Planes Trains and Automobiles. I turned both off about halfway through, because I couldn't stand the anxiety.

A don't tell anyone, but I'm not a big fan of Seinfeld either. The yelling and the awkward situations - it's just too much. Although, I do like Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up routines.

The movie I laughed the most at recently was Little Miss Sunshine. Just plain funny. And I'll never pass up a good stand-up act.

fiwa said...

Most of the comedy movies out these days leave me feeling that way. Pretty much anything with Adam Sandler or Will Ferrel leaves me thinking "huh?". And I think I'm the only person alive who just didn't find Napoleon Dynamite funny. Angela's Ashes made me incredibly sad, and thank you, I now know to stay away from After Hours.

egan said...

That is a great question you pose. Dane Cook, that dorky comedian... he's just not funny. Is this what you mean?

Was this couple testing you and your hubby? Did you have to drop your keys in a basket when you arrived? From what I've heard regarding Angela's Ashes, it's not funny. Then again, that's only hearsay.

Unknown said...

Angela's Ashes made me cry, like most folks here. There were a couple points where I smiled, but overall, the book just made me feel awful.

Meet the Parents. What a horrid movie. O and I watched it, and when it was over (I don't know WHY we watched the whole thing) we were both on edge and pissy and wanted those two hours of our lives back. I HATE those types of movies.

OhTheJoys said...

The movies,

"Something About Mary" and

"Dumb and Dumber."

Not funny. Stupid.

Tink said...

Ugh. There is NOTHING "hysterically funny" about Angela's Ashes. That would be like calling "Sophie's Choice" or "The Diary of Anne Frank" a lighthearted read. People are so screwed up.

meno said...

rhea, probably as much as it says about me that i loathed it. Like i said, i have nightmares like that movie. Freud would have a field day with us.

princess, yeah, i never buy anything from them, this "review" just happened to catch my eye. I don't get Ben Stiller either. Except he was good in Keeping the Faith. Other than that, he's not funny to me.

mignon, i too do not find cringing in sympathy to be my idea of a good time. Your Seinfeld secret is safe with me. I can take his show in small doses, but that's enough. I thought Little Miss Sunshine was sweet.

fiwa, i am not a fan of either of them either. But i did like Spanglish with Adam and oddly enough, Stranger Than Fiction was not what o was expecting from Will Ferrell. You are NOT the only person who didn't get ND.

egan, you are the second person to mention this Dane Cook person as lame. No keys on the way in, they really thought it was funny. I guess they have less vivid, or paranoid dreams than me.

nancy, i know, what a sad tale. Ultimately uplifting as all that, but NOT funny. I thought Meet The Parents was stupid as well.

oh, the joys, i agree with you. Was it really that funny to watch Ben Stiller with his nuts caught in his zipper?

tink, we use that line around our house a lot. When Em tells me she's reading some heavy-handed classic, like Moby Dick, i respond with "Well that's a light-hearted romantic romp." We think we're funny.

crazymumma said...

Yup. Usually when a joke is made at another persons expense.

After Hours. I remember that movie. It left me feeling very bleak. And Ashes. Ya, maybe tongue in cheek funny at some points, but most of it was just sad and tragic.

Liv said...

Okay, so why did your post make me think of the film "Heartburn"? I remember watching that when I was 8 months pregnant with my son and called my husband bawling that I just knew he was going to leave me. (enter foreshadowing...)

BUT, the kicker is that Mama Bear announced when I told her that I had seen it that "it was a great comedy." Maybe she wrote the Angela's Ashes yarn too?!

Anonymous said...

I hated Angela's Ashes and felt like killing myself after reading it. I can't imagine anyone writing "Hysterically funny..." about a book in which babies die of starvation. Did I miss something?

peevish said...

I forgot to say that I didn't enjoy the film Borat all that much. The creepy inappropriateness of it was too much for me.

Anonymous said...

that's kinda what i was getting at with my review of "god is not Great". I thoroughly enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud, but I'm pretty sure some other readers have found it completely offensive.

Daphne Enns said...

Nope, nothin' funny bout Angela's Ashes.

Was I the only one that thought Forrest Gump was extremely sad. It's about a lonely fellow with intellectual challenges who doesn't know what's going on around him. Yes, he sort of leads a charmed life but does he know it?

I was sad for weeks after seeing that movie, yet most people found it funny and entertaining.

Has anyone read Amy Tan's books? They're often sad, but her characters are beautiful and bittersweet.

Frank McCourt is a good writer but I actually know a number of people that would say that his life was no worse than many others. I guess the point is that he turned something terrible into a stirring and sad story. Funny? No.

meno said...

crazymumma, It was a bleak movie. I guess i don't find mental illness all that humorous. Silly me.

liv, i remember that movie. I felt anxious after seeing it too. Have you seen the movie "The Last Kiss"? I was so pissed off after it. I kept wanting to tell that girl to "Run, Run, Flee for your life!" But since it was ostensibly a romantic comedy, she forgave him. Bah!

deb, i know, real funny that starving baby thing.

peevish, i didn't care for Borat either. Creepy inappropriateness is a perfect description.

franki, I bet i would have liked it too. Actually, i'm sure i would, i'll have to get it and make sure.

daphne, i thought Forrest Gump was sad, and also The Gods Must Be Crazy. I kept thinking of that scene where he's locked in jail and he has no idea why. I've read 2 or 3 of Amy Tan's books. They are good, but in no way funny.

Andrea Frazer said...

A bunch of sitcom writers from Grace Under Fire were watching this "hysterial" video about a blind dog trying to go after a ball in the water. He kept getting his head hit by a stick, but was determined to get that damn ball again. Proof that sitcom writers are the meanest snarkiest people on the planet.

luckyzmom said...

After Hours is considered a dark comedy with, perhaps, some comic relief. Perhaps there is comic relief in Angela's Ashes but under no circumstances should it be described as hilarious.

Mermaid Melanie said...

Agree on both counts. Heartily. I didn't find Angela's Ashes to be light hearted. After Hours was painful, almost torture. Another one? Planes, Trains and Automobiles.


Biscotto said...

Honestly? Monty Python's The Holy Grail movie. It was showing at the college theater. I went by myself, perhaps that was the problem. I sat there and said, if that Knight has another limb cut off, I am leaving.

So of course I left. Outraged and righteous and very not amused.

I didn't think that sort of humor was at all funny. Which, looking back, I think is hilarious.

So fast forward 20 years. My neice comes to visit. She is really into musical theatre. I took her to NYC to see Spamalot, the musical based on MP Grail movie. I liked it so much that I bought the album on iTunes. The boys and I listen to it ALL of the time. They even know the lyrics.

Best of all, Jay and I bought tickets for the 4 of us to go see the production when it comes to town in a few months. They don't know, it is going to be a surprise.

I can't wait.

urban-urchin said...

someone told me barton fink was hilarious. it's not- it's scary and i don't do well with scary.
angela's ashes is so far from hilarious i wonder what the reviewer was smoking. and i totally agree about after hours.

Anonymous said...

I hate the video of the mother arriving with the cake. Her dress gets ripped off by the car and she falls in the ditch, while her asshole son keeps filming. My husband and my brother-in-law think it's hilarious. They think a lot of slapstick humor is funny. It flies right by me. Wheee.

All those America's Funniest Home Videos with people getting hurt freak me out. Ah ha ha ha, it's so funny when the little kid goes flying through the air into a trash can! Ha ha ha ha! Look at the guy fall off the ladder! Oh ho ho ho! Their wedding cake is ruined now! Hee heee hee! Not that funny, actually.