Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chicken Colossus of Roads

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To get to the other side.
Q. Why have you spent so much time wondering about this joke?
A. Because it seems like there should be more to it than that.
Q. Is this joke funny? Is it even a joke?
A. I'm not sure. That's part of why it bothers me.
Q. Does the joke say anything fundamental about the human [or chicken] condition?
A. Maybe something about the banality or futility of existence, about there being nothing underneath the surface. Or maybe the joke has a didactic, pro-pragmatist purpose: to focus on concrete behavior, to uphold action over thought. Or maybe something about the pointlessness of desire, about how your overall situation does not particularly change no matter the state of your circumstances, regardless of how much you wanted to get there.
Q. Why would the original writer have thought that any of those concepts could possibly produce a laugh?
A. Probably only because of the chicken. If the joke is humorous at all, it hinges on the inclusion of an animal that we as a society have collectively agreed is amusing. But I don't think I've ever heard anybody laugh at this joke.
Q. Does the joke follow any of the rules of comedy?
A. I believe that humor derives from a revelation of the unexpected, whereas this joke hinges only on a revelation of the obvious. So no, I don't think so.
Q. If one fails to expect the obvious, wouldn't the obvious be unexpected?
A. Sure. And it's probably too late to point out this out, but there is, of course, a danger of analyzing a joke to death. Any examination of humor invariably kills the comedy.
Q. So if the joke wasn't funny before, how could it possibly be funny now?
A. It still isn't.
Q. Why did you even write this blog post?
A. To get to the other side.

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