Daily Archives: September 29, 2009
At some point in the development of human culture, we — and I speak a collective “we” as citizens of the world — decided that we did not like fart jokes. The very term “fart joke” has become short hand for humor that’s crude. Unseemly. Lazy. Far too bourgeois. Any movie that employs a fart joke is immediately dismissed as the trash heap of comedy. A movie, for example, could have a script written by Garrison Keillor. But if you, heaven forbid, put a fart joke in it, lord how the critics will talk! They will stick their nose up in the air and say things such as, “Leave your surreptitious trumpetlike rump blasts for infants and rednecks.” (Notable exception: Blazing Saddles. For some reason, the fart scene there is considered high art, perhaps because it is the best fart scene.)
The paradox, though, is that fart jokes are funny. Let out a long, mighty rip — ideally punctuated by a motorboat staccato — and you can bring the whole room down with laughter and tears of joy. There’s something primal about hearing a fart and laughing in kind. It’s an instinct hard-coded the deepest recesses of our minds. We find it funny, our forefathers found it funny, and it doesn’t depend on witticisms that need copious amounts of cultural baggage or familiarity with the language. Sarcasm may be unique to Western culture, but fart jokes are universal. It’s somewhat of a comfort to imagine that our ancestors amused themselves around a campfire by ritualistically dancing around the campfire in their facepaint and decorative shields to celebrate the gods for their blessed feast of wild boar, only to have the festivities erupt into guffaws when one of the dancers felt particularly gassy. Naturally, his wife would be standing sternly to the side, rolling her eyes.
Which brings me to Gunshow, a webcomic by the irrepressible KC Green. It’s no insult, I think, to say that Gunshow is the fart joke of webcomics. I mean that metaphorically, for the most part … though it’s pretty literal at times, too. Gun Show taps into the most primordial instincts, daring us to laugh from something as ridiculously simple as a goofy-looking face. Like the crude humor you find in those early Mel Brooks films and South Park‘s Terrence & Phillip, sometimes it takes a genius to remind you that fart jokes are, in fact, funny.