Humor is subjective. Is it ever. From Chris Rock to Erma Bombeck. Finding humor in bad behavior has limited appeal. I totally get it. For every person who laughs, a handful are offended ("You think that's funny? That's not funny--it's pathetic!"). I choose to laugh. Not all bad behavior is funny, of course, but much is.
Here's a nutshell example. Back in the previous geological era, I lived in a section of downtown Detroit called Cass Corridor. No one mistook my neighborhood for Beverly Hills or Bel-Air, California. At the time, Detroit had the highest homicide rate in the U.S. In this neighborhood, you could die of many things, but never of boredom.
I lived on the first floor of my apartment building. The stone over the front door said: Villa Lante. Everyone called the building the Vigilante. A heroin dealer camped out on the second floor. His clientele would show up at unconventional hours, in various states of altered consciousness, and invariably press the wrong buzzers in the foyer. Including mine. Zing zing zinggggggggggg. I'd open my apartment door at 3:00 in the morning and glance slit-eyed down the hall. The dealer's customer base would be sort of melting against the glass foyer door. All loose-kneed legs and limbs and rolling eyeballs, swaying like saplings in the wind. This went on pretty much every night. Despite the entertainment value, the bloom quickly faded from the rose. Zing zing zinggggg became charmless. However, the merchant upstairs was a very sizable dude, and his calling in life suggested to me that he may be a bit of a hothead. Also, when you live in the homicide capital of the U.S., the opiate distributor upstairs gets pretty much overlooked. If you call it in to the police, you can kiss your dime goodbye.
What to do about this bad behavior?
This: I taped a piece of paper over the merchant's buzzer. The message:
Welcome. Press #12 for heroin. Open all night. We never close. Press #12 for scag. Competitive prices. Will match your best offer. Press #12 for smack.
Or sometimes I'd post this:
Heroin-R-Us. Don't O.D. in the foyer. C'mon upstairs and collapse. Press #12. Shoot (heroin) first, ask questions later. Cop humor, ha ha. I'm the Man. I'm the Po-leese. Ha ha. Just fuckin' with ya. Press #12 for horse, H, shit, junk, mud, whatever.
Well, gosh dang if that sign didn't work real real good. My buzzer went into a coma. Of course, the sign kept disappearing. But I was always happy to make another one, same or similar message, and tape it again in the foyer over the mailbox. Praise Jesus. Commerce flowed through proper channels. I slept uninterrupted. Everyone's happy.
Some folks found my sign funny. Some didn't. They found zero humor in that. Oh well. For each one who laughs, a handful...oh, never mind. You get the drift. And it wasn't long before the dealer disappeared altogether.
Which brings me to one of the funniest humorists in history. Mark Twain really nailed it: "The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven." Mr. T was dead-on. If you sit alone in a chair for endless hours, facing a wall, and write humor, well, you're probably not the centerfold for Mental Health Monthly. You may occasionally wonder what's up with your sorry ass? You suspect there's a stream of dissatisfaction deep down inside you. You sometimes think of it as the Colorado River running at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If you stand at the top of the steep canyon, the tiny river looks like blue sewing thread. The river is always rolling on, always, cutting deeper and deeper into the rock. Into your bones. Maybe that's the secret source of humor. A constant current of dissatisfaction, sorrow, heartbreak. A need to reinvent the world. Or at least break it apart like a big jigsaw puzzle. That way, you can pick up one small piece at a time, pinch it between two fingers, stare at it until your cross-eyed, and try to figure it out. Try to understand. All the while, you're holding the piece and asking, "How the hell does this fit into the big picture?"
Anyway, FRANKENSTEIN: SPERM DONOR DAREDEVIL is sort of like whitewater rafting on an icy stream of dissatisfaction. I mean, you know, the Colorado River.
[If you click on the Frankenstein cover at the top, the link will take you to Amazon. Oh my God. Colorado River. Amazon. What's up with this river thing?]