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Life Arts

True Humor Demands Courage

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 From Audrey Hepburn show 05
Audrey Hepburn show 05 by Luiz Fernando / Sonia Maria

Satire: An obsolete kid of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness. In this country satire never had more than a sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all humor, being tolerant and sympathetic. Moreover, although Americans are 'endowed by their Creator' with abundant vice and folly, it is not generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the satirist is popularly regarded as a sour-spirited knave and his every victim's outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent."  [Abrose Bierce , The Devil's Dictionary.]

"Let the walls of this toilet be decorated by humor and satire."
[Graffiti in a Russian public toilet.]

".. a laugh is the wisest, easiest answer to all that's queer."
[Herman Melville , Moby Dick.] 

I would like to start this essay with the following two samples of good   humor:

1. Every day on my way to work I drive by a dingy house on the edge of the street. The poster reads:

  Spiritual Readings. Walk-ins welcome.

Funny? You bet. You can imagine the walk-in spirits pouring through the door, like in the movie Ghost. The spiritual reader in the house, however, apparently didn't mean that. He meant people were welcome anytime, which made it even funnier.

If I wanted to use this poster as a piece of satire, I would rewrite it as   a poster on the door of a Congressman's office:

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   Soul selling. Walk-ins welcome.

2. This one is an authentic joke from the  American South:

A person passes by a house in the South. There's an old man in a rocking chair on the porch. He watches the dog doing something strange: he jumps from his place, up and down, then lies back down at the same place. The passer-by asks the man:

              What's with the dog? 

  Guess..sss sitting on a nail, sneers the old man.

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  Then why doesn't he move away?

  Guess..sss it doesn't hurt enough.

Perfect humor. Witty and sharp. Right to the point. If I would like to use it as satire, the only thing I would need to do is add a comment:

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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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