Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cat Skeletons in the Tree Tops

I’m not sure what actually causes something to be funny. I certainly have spent time trying to understand the source of humor. And yes, I suppose that there are some aspects of creating humorous situations that can be categorized and followed as guidelines to creating funny cartoons. But in the end, being funny isn’t something that flows from guidelines or structure. It is just something that happens naturally and instinctively. You just intuitively know that something is funny. And that just means that it just is, and you probably don’t know the reason why. In fact that is the intuitive part of creating funny things, you just “know” when something is funny.

Writing humor is mostly spontaneous. That is not to say that you have to sit around and wait for lightning to strike. It just means that you have to be open to the moment and be ready to capture whatever you can.

I suspect that a lot of humor flows from associations and past experience. It is also different based on social and cultural experiences. What is funny to some people many not seem as funny to others. But we all relate back to funny thoughts triggered by something that reminds us of the past. In general people remember their good experiences and block out their unhappy times.

I think I must have many happy thoughts associated with cats, because cats just naturally trigger my sense of humor. It is difficult for me to look at a cat or at a drawing of a cat and not start to riff off a series of humorous thoughts. Think of a cat sitting on a man’s shoe. I challenge you not to start laughing. What is that cat doing sitting on that shoe? Or in that shoe? What is the owner of that shoe going to do when they try to put it on their foot and discover the "presents" left inside.

Yes, just give me a cat and almost any object and I start laughing. Have you ever watched a cat try to eat a whole grapefruit that has been sliced in half? Just the visual image that conjures in your mind of those two things has you laughing. I don’t know why, but some stuff is just naturally funny. And that’s a lot of how cartoons are created. Funny is everywhere you look, that is if you are open to it.

The title of this article comes from a story we have all heard about the little old lady getting upset when her cat climbs up into a tall tree. She runs around like crazy, and calls the fire department to "please come rescue this poor misguided cat." The fireman tries to reassure the lady by telling her “cats always get down just fine on their own, because I have never seen a cat’s skeleton up in a tree.” Yes, that starts me off laughing every time I look up in a tree trying to find a cat’s skeleton.


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