September 03, 2010 Features & Images » Feature Story

Summer of Funny 

The best of the not unfunny


For your consideration...

Nothing is more subjective than humour. Some people like their humour obvious and over the top, somehow laughing harder at the scenes they already 40 times in the commercial/trailer than for the other bits that were just as brilliant. That group seems to be the majority, the reason why Everyone Loves Raymond was on television for nine seasons and Arrested Development was cancelled after three.

For others it's all about subtlety, the humour in the person or situation rather than the punchline. It's not about zingers, which some sitcoms feel the need to deliver with a laugh track every second line or so.

In my case, I like to be surprised. I like it when a joke takes a long time to develop, like some of the more elaborate plotlines on Seinfeld (or Arrested Development ). I like it when characters are perfect even if they're unlikable, like Ignatius Reilly in Confederacy of Dunces , or Ted Knight as Judge Smails in Caddyshack . I enjoy it when things get taken to a level of absurdity that you can't believe what you're seeing, like any scene from Feddie Got Fingered or the final battle from Pineapple Express .

I don't like stereotype humour, or any of those shows where the husband is a fat, sarcastic asshole with a hot wife. I don't like comedy that's rooted in sustained embarrassment, like any of those Meet the Parents movies. I don't like Jar-Jar Binks stumbling around in Episode I: The Phantom Menace .

Maybe you liked all those things, and that's okay. Not everybody is going to like the same things.

But I like these stories, which you're about to read.

This year's Summer of Funny seemed to be all about the long-form short story, although they could have submitted anything from jokes to scripts to top-10 lists. Fair enough - when most of the submitters were members of our local writer's group, (a.k.a. The Vicious Circle) and are all working on longer pieces, that's not such a bad thing.

Last year the range of formats allowed us to declare pretty much everyone a winner and divvy up the prize purse accordingly, but with over 15,000 words of entries this year the Pique editorial staff knuckled down and voted. Usually our staffers had no problems making their first two votes, but when it came to giving out their third there was much hemming and hawing. The result was a clear winner, some strong runners-up and a bunch of stories that came up just short. In other words, no clear losers...

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