Good comedy requires no explanation

Scott Adams’ March 27th blog post, I’m a what, is whelmingly anticlimactic. (If you’re not familiar, Scott Adams is the author of Dilbert. There, you already love or hate him.) This recent post details the reason why he chose to delete a slightly less-recent blog post after it received much negative attention from the blogosphere.

The problem with the offending post? Well, he told men’s rights activists they were a “bunch of pussies”, and claimed that when speaking to women about women’s rights, it’s easiest not to argue.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

On my own path of least resistance, I’m utterly unfazed by Adams’ statements. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, I am a terminally laid-back lady. And, secondly, the original post was fairly obviously meant as a snarky bit of humour. That said, he claims that removing the post added to said humour.

A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post. If you didn’t get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away…But I didn’t take down the piece just because I thought doing so would be funny, or because I wanted attention. Those were bonuses. The main reason is that when a lot of drive-by readers saw the piece, and they didn’t know the context of this blog, it changed the message of the post to something unintended. As a writer, unintended messages are unbearable.

I confess that I misjudged the degree of excitement this would generate. Indeed, the big fuss didn’t happen for over three weeks. I also didn’t predict that critics would reprint the post one component at a time so they could dissect it, which has the fascinating effect of changing the humorous tone to something hideous. Humor requires flow and timing.

Unfortunately for Adams, making a joke, deleting a joke, then over-explaining a joke doesn’t make it funny. In his own words, “[a] frog isn’t much of a frog after you dissect it.”


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