Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Ant Theory of Comedy (continued)

Life’s funny, ain’t it?

Chances are you’ve heard that saying before, in one iteration or another, almost like a longstanding truth or a maxim of the universe. Chances are you’ve laughed today at something small and mostly unseen and forgotten to ask yourself why you found it so funny. Reason becomes secondary to response in this instance of unobserved laughter but lends way to a simple comedic question: can we find anything funny given enough effort?
            There’s a law in astrophysics that loosely states that, with enough time and energy, anything becomes possible. I could, for example, phase through a wall simply by pushing on it, theoretically, if I pushed constantly for a million years, maybe. On a comedic scale, this law works out much cleaner. Take, for instance, the time theory of comedy (tragedy+time) and notice how it employs both facets of time and energy. That is one approach to making something funny, but say you don’t have the time to wait. Say you needed the comedic value now. Scientifically speaking, when there is less of one variable there becomes an exponential increase or decrease in the second. Thus, to achieve the same effect of comedy, distance must be amplified. The working formula for the Ant Theory is (space+distance) and the further away from something you get, the funnier the details become.

            To better illustrate my working theory we can take Maira Kalman’s The Principles of Uncertainty and observe how Kalman accesses points of wonder and comedic beauty in the ordinary details of an otherwise unsuspecting world. Such attentiveness to life and its many intricacies is coupled with an equal morbidity to her understanding. She is aware of the temporality of life and employs this dread into finding the hidden gems of life, the bloom before the wither. Comedy and tragedy function in unison like light and shadows and you can never truly have one without the other. Enter the Ant Theory and its likewise morbid basis: We are all microscopic in the total scope of the universe. If it were a map in your mind, we’d fall into abyss. Space is mostly black, and its funny how much color can fit in a grain of sand. Anything is funny if you think hard enough about it, because the more you think about it the further away you get.

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