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Whoopie Cushions

Went to a birthday party last night in Georgetown, a swank place, great food, amusing guests, and lots of party favors, such as the exploding can of nuts (ALWAYS a laff riot) and whoopie cushions. I had the good luck of sitting next to the hostess, and naturally I placed an inflated whoopie cushion under her seat when she was in the kitchen. The mere anticipation of the hilarity to come was almost more mirth than I could handle. Potential humor is sometimes as good as kinetic humor. But the hostess wandered around for so long, the cushion deflated. My joke fell flat, in a sense. Without the detonation, my joke bombed. That's the thing about whoopie cushions: You have to have good timing and good luck. In any case I just had this verbatim exchange with Weingarten via msgpost.

Achenblog: Are whoopie cushions funny? I think they're hilarious.

Weingarten: I don't even understand the question. It is like asking "is humor funny?" Of COURSE they are funny. They are encapsulating the entire irony of the human condition. We like to pretend we are not mere animals, and yet we must do this ridiculous thing, this absurd bodily function. To artificially induce it, so as to embarrass a stodgy person who denies the act with the entirety of his being, is funny.

(I think that's correct. Humor is the collision of conflicting referential frames; laughter is our response to the recognition that the one thing overlaps inappropriately with the other.)

[This is SUCH a good blog item I am going to activate the Comments function.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 13, 2005; 3:37 PM ET
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