kinds of drugs and its side effects

The Petties, Pee & Papers, Please: What’s Funny?

The pressure is on.

I found out Tuesday night that Will My Dog Hate Me was nominated for a DogTime Pettie award as Funniest Pet Blog or Blogger.

This would suggest to me that, if I want to win, I’d better be funny from now until July 29, when the voting ends.

What’s Funny?

A friend once asked me if I could help her “write funnier.” I didn’t think I could analyze what comes more or less naturally to me — and, really, who needs the competition? — but today it occurred to me that, if I can’t be consistently funny between now and July 29,  maybe I can explain why I think some elements of humor work. This may or many not get me some gratitude votes.

I’m okay with pity too.

Not everyone is going to agree on what constitutes humor but, today being Travel Thursday, I was planning on focusing on two incidents in San Diego that I thought were inherently funny. Which is to say, you can’t add humor to your writing; you have to see it in situations and then try to articulate them as sharply as possible.

Incident #1: As my friends and I were sitting around and relaxing before dinner at their home in San Diego, Frankie lifted his leg and peed on their rug.

Incident #2: Frankie and I were invited to dine in a San Diego restaurant that was purported to be pet friendly.  Apparently management didn’t get the memo — or didn’t pass it along. When we arrived, the hostess, flustered, said she wasn’t used to seating dogs on the patio but supposed it would be okay if I could show her Frankie’s papers.

So what’s funny here?

The Title

Alliteration is funny

These two incidents could be summed up by “Pee” and “Papers, please.” I was just lucky that I was nominated for a Pettie and not an Oscar. People have written treatises on why the repetition of sounds is pleasing (or, if overdone, contrived and annoying).  In any case, it’s a way to link ideas that don’t necessarily belong together and…

Putting disparate things together is funny

Or at least startling. What do awards, urination and an immigration law in Arizona have in common? I got you wondering with that title, didn’t I?

The Incidents

Bodily functions are funny

Ask any kid. When in doubt, mention pee, poop, or underarm odor. When you can combine one or more of these elements — say, with underarm farts — it’s a bonus.

Animals are funny, especially small cute ones

Frankie has wild hair and an inquisitive little face. Plus he’s a terrier, which suggests a tendency towards mischief.  A grown man urinating in your living room — creepy. A small dog, boldly going where many had gone before (as one of my friends, whose household is always lively with dogs and cats, explained)? Funny.  I imagine the expression of horror on my face when I realized what Frankie was doing was pretty amusing, too. Finally, there was the fact that my friends were not upset. Not being welcome back to a home in a city you love to visit is not amusing.

Mocking snobbery/injustice is funny

Here’s where we get beyond slapstick and bathroom humor and move in the direction of political wit and satire. Asking a mixed breed dog for papers evokes a host of associations — the first that came to me, as I mentioned, was with an Arizona law that would have required people to show papers to prove they were not illegal aliens. The term illegal alien, offensive when applied to humans — undocumented workers is a far more neutral way to put it — is amusing when it refers to a small dog who has big ears that look like they could be used to get signals from outer space.

When I alluded to this incident on Facebook, my friend Pamela of Something Wagging This Way Comes commented that perhaps the restaurant’s hostess had seen the picture of Frankie as a space alien. It’s an inside joke for regulars to my blog, one I’ll let you in on here.

Oh, it goes without saying — as anyone who named her website Something Wagging This Way Comes can attest — that many, many people think puns are funny. Even when they make you groan.

Humor for Humor’s Sake?

I can be as frivolous as the next person; hey, I was originally going to devote my blog to dog dressing, its title being short for Will My Dog Hate Me If I Dress Him?  I think anything that brings a little laughter into the day is worth pursuing.

But I’m also a bit of an activist for causes I believe in. And since I adopted Frankie those causes tend to be animal oriented. The longer I blogged, the more it became clear that it’s more effective to focus on the positive, to make people understand the joy that pets can bring into their lives rather making them feel that rescue, for example, is a duty. That’s why I started running two video series: Spay & Neuter with a Smile and Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make You Want To Kill Yourself. You’ll find some of the best examples of both in the Austin Humane Society’s Awesome Ad Campaign.

The Petties

This brings me back to the Petties (bet you thought I’d never get here)

If I win, I’m going to donate the $1000 prize to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.  Frankie was not adopted from there but two of his pet sitters started volunteering there and both ended up being permanent staff members. I don’t want to make a strong case for causality, but Frankie tends to be an inspirational dog.

So. Go to DogTime.com to cast your vote for Will My Dog Hate Me in the humor category. Every day. Twice a day. Starting today and going through until July 29. You’re not allowed to stuff the ballot box, virtually speaking — I would if I could — but two votes a day add up.

Do it for the dogs of Southern Arizona. Do it for Frankie. Or else I’ll bring him to your house and have him pee on your rug.

 

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28 Comments

  1. Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Speaking of bodily functions — I just read Sarah Silverman’s book, The Bedwetter. It was funny.
    Speaking of peeing — my heart dog Painter the Greyhound who has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge and is mentioned in Edie’s book “Am I Boring My Dog?” peed on my neighbor Christina. One day we were out gossiping on the sidewalk (Christina & I) and Painter just lifted his leg and peed on her. I was embarrassed; Painter, not so much. I guess it was Painter’s way of convincing Christina that she was his bitch.
    Fortunately, Christina’s parents are veterinarians so she didn’t seem upset but after that gave Painter a wide berth.

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      That’s hysterical. I never knew Painter peed on Christina. He always seemed like such a gentlemanly dog — well, except when he wanted to eat Frankie. He wasn’t small either, so that would have been a lot of pee!

  2. Posted July 7, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The Focus Booster alarm just went off on my computer; I am supposed to take a 10 minute break and come back when the “Doorbell” sounds. Lady Bug, a Beagle adopted two weeks ago to a wonderful family, apparently knew what a doorbell meant – ALARM! She would bay and head to the back door. No one now reacts to the sound – I miss LB but know she is having a blast. I find it more funny now than when hearing her voice at midnight :).
    I voted for you and am going to check out the rest of the blogs in the running. GO, GO, GO!
    BTW, I love puns and alliteration.

  3. Posted July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I voted for you yesterday! I really hope you win this one. You and Frankie deserve it. Cheers and good luck!

    Sadie and Deborah

  4. Posted July 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Voting for you every day. Asked our family, friends, and followers to do the same. Good luck!

  5. Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    What a gift. Even when you’re writing a post about what makes stuff funny, you’re funny. 🙂

    And you’ve mentioned some of the comic hits–puns (anyone for Tales from the Dach Side?), mockery (the Daily Show), and bodily functions (if you spend your days carrying dog sh*t in plastic bags, you’ve just got to laugh).

    But the crazy thing is we all have different tastes in humor.If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Two and a Half Men is still in production and hardly anyone has ever heard of Arrested Development.

    Yep, the pressure is on but I found it easy to vote for WMDHM as funniest blog.

  6. Edie Jarolim
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for your support — much appreciated.

    Pamela, thank you for telling me about Tales from the Dach Side — what a treat! Now here’s where I have to confess that Two and a Half Men was a guilty pleasure before Charlie Sheen imploded and that I never could get into Arrested Development.

    • Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:58 am | Permalink

      I just love it! Humor is so subjective. And I adore the fact that someone I think of as funny and clever enjoyed a show I consider just dreadful. That gives me immense joy! The world is an amazing place.

      BTW, my guilty pleasure is Judge Judy. I seek it out every time I find myself in a hotel room or rented house. I find it hilarious.

  7. Posted July 8, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    You can vote more than once? I thought it was a one-time vote thing only. Clearly I wasn’t paying attention. Back to the website I go!

    Mocking snobbery is always funny. 🙂

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure how I feel about that, to tell you the truth. It seems to me the number of people who vote — as opposed to the number of people willing to go back and vote over and over — should be the criterion for winning. But then again, I don’t have a large, extended family…

      And that said, the rules are what they are… so thank you very much for voting early and often!

  8. Posted July 8, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Dogtime must have modeled their voting procedures after Chicago’s, where even dead folks get a vote;)) I didn’t know you could vote twice a day every day, either, so thanks for that! Your blog has always been the place I can count on to get me laughing out loud – like today – papers please indeed! You’ll get my vote, every day!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Now that’s funny too! And what a nice thing to say. Thanks, Mary!

  9. Posted July 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Hey Edie! Love the unexpected pee! But just wait till it’s a steaming pile! During dinner. At the in-laws’. On Christmas. HILARIOUS! (Well, at least Jeff and I thought so.) Love and best of luck from a fellow nominee. 😉

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Ah, when it’s the in-laws, they *have* to invite you back! Thanks for that image — it’ll get me through the holidays next year 😉

      I really enjoyed your Petties entry blog post about Ruby and have been voting for it, 2x a day. Best of luck to you, too!

  10. Posted July 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Maybe she was asking for Frankie’s vaccination certificate? Maybe newspapers for peeing on? Non-dog people are funny in general :O

  11. Posted July 9, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the Petties award! Good luck and hope you win because humor is my favorite genre of all time.

    Stopping by on the blog hop. You’ll have to see my video I posted today about the cat band and the cat lady. Hysterical.

    Happy Caterday from Chairman Meow and his minions (the pups).

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 9, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Thank you! Did you make that video? I just checked it out and it’s hysterical.

  12. Posted July 9, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your nomination, and best of luck to you!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 9, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Thanks very much, Ingrid. And same to you! I didn’t associate your name with The Conscious Cat, another Petties nominee, initially — good thing Commentluv sent me over to your blog.

  13. Posted July 10, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    First of all, Concats for you : )
    I’m one of your competitors, And after read ” if I want to win, I’d better be funny from now until July 29, when the voting ends “.. I laugh out loud.. You are funny !
    I feel your pain who can be funny everyday till 29 of July, but I feel the same way as you !
    Love your sense of humor, Even I’m cat ; )

    Mr. Puddy

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks — and barks backatcha! Very nice of you to come by and not try to scratch out Frankie’s eyes out. You’re pretty darned funny yourself. If a cat wins — although that would be wrong — I hope it’s you 😉

  14. Posted July 11, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    This post proves that thoughtful and intelligent can co-exist with humour.

    What makes things funny? I too am addicted to alliteration (see?), but I try to avoid puns (don’t always succeed). I’ve always loved Monty Python, but it’s avant-garde humour of the absurd, and many don’t get it. Never watched Two And a Half Men, but love The Big Bang Theory (same writers and producers). Love Gene Weingarten, but not Dave Barry, yet it similar humour.

    Truly, humour is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a jelly doughnut.

  15. Posted July 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Voted for you. Good luck!

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Jackie — much appreciated!

  16. Posted July 18, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    You make a convincing case! 🙂

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 18, 2011 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Thanks, AJ!

  17. Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    It made me laugh that even while discussing the need to be funny until July 29th you were being funny. I think you’re right. It can’t be taught.

    Love the way this post weaved it’s way to the Petties. A nice way to blog about it.

    BTW – I voted. 🙂

    • Edie Jarolim
      Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Mel, on all counts!

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