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A Serious Discussion of Humor

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posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 12:57 PM
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Yes seriously and maybe we'll get a few laughs out of this. I'm at a loss as to what forum to put this thread, so Mods please feel free to transfer this as you seem fit. Maybe in The Gray Area, Philosophy and Metaphysics, Ancient & Lost Civilizations, Jokes, Puns & Pranks, Weaponry, Research or the Collaborative Writing Forums?

This was inspired by Trachel's thread Enhancing The World.

I don't think I'll be able to do justice in starting this thread. The breadth and depth of the subject is no laughing matter, so please bear with me or should I say humor me? I don't have the time nor skills & talent to fully exhaust this topic, so I am appealing to your contributions to shed light on the subject at hand.

Humor Defined
1.(N) The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.
1.1 The ability to express humor or amuse other people.
2. A mood or state of mind.
2.1 An inclination or whim.
3. (v) Comply with the wishes of (someone) in order to keep them content, however unreasonable such wishes might be.
3.1 Adapt or accommodate oneself to (something).


The Origins of Humor
Etymological Origin
From it's beginnings circa 14th century, from the Latin word umor "body fluid" related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet." We can already sense that there's something funny about it's origins. Why at the tail end of the Middle Ages? Does this mean that before the 14th century people are bereft of humor? (See Historical Examples)

Ancient and Lost Civilizations
Was the topic of humor ever mentioned in the ancient Vedic texts? How about the Sumerians, Egyptians, Incas and Mayans and the list goes on? How about in the ancient occult writings?

Religious Implications
If there is a God, we can't help but to think that He is a prankster and feel awed by his sense of humor however dark at times. Will the atheists appreciate the irony?

Philosophical Implications and Speculations
What is the essence of laughter? Do aliens have a sense of humor?

Historical Examples
Although Benjamin Franklin's "A Letter To A Royal Academy" fart joke barely raised a few eyebrows in 1781, Jonathan Swift's satire "A Modest Proposal" in 1729 caused a popular outcry that forced the Irish and English governments to act. How about Shakespeare's comedies to G.B. Shaw and Samuel Beckett?

Current Implications
Comedy in films and TV is a thread on it's own, then there's stand-up comedian like George Carlin to internet memes and demotivational posters; which brings me to the question can humor be weaponized?

We only have to remember that laughter is contagious, so there's a lot of potential there and if laughter is the best medicine, can it be reversed engineered to make us sick? Will DARPA and the big pharmaceutical companies be interested? Are they already developing such weapons? Did they rediscovered it from the ancient occult writings?

Rumors About Humor
My cousin's hairdresser's friend is the mistress of a high ranking DARPA official, according to him the late Robin Williams worked as an adviser to DARPA. Robin was fired only after two weeks, they couldn't get things done because he was always joking around the R&D department. Jim Carrey took his place and still is an adviser to DARPA.

Another rumor according to the source is that there is a pending legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will make photobombing an act of phototerrorism under the new Homeland Security Act. Everyone who violates the law will be detained in Guantamo without any hearing.

Maybe he's just pulling his mistress' leg?


That's about it for now.
edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 01:01 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva

Do aliens have a sense of humor?


Donald Trump says if they did he would build a great big wall around that as well:


'American people used to be funny, we don't win at being funny anymore. I want to change that. I want us to be funny, I'm funny all the time. People look at me and laugh. I want to do the same for you.'



posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 01:06 PM
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Weaponized humor?



posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 01:44 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva

You mean "humour", of course. With that correction, I can add some comments.

From it's beginnings circa 14th century, from the Latin word umor "body fluid" related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet." We can already sense that there's something funny about it's origins. Why at the tail end of the Middle Ages? Does this mean that before the 14th century people are bereft of humor?

No, it means that before the 14th century people were using different words.
Anything can be much older than the current word used to describe it.

Doctors in the Middle Ages believed that health and disposition were governed by the state of balance of four liquids called "humours". Two of them were "choler" and "phlegm", which we still use metaphorically.
I suppose if these were well-balanced you could be said to have "good humour", which would give you a sunny disposition.
But if you were excessively "choleric", you would be in a bad humour, of course, and something would have to be done about that. They might try drawing off half a pint of blood, to redress the balance.

You could have mentioed that a bone in the arm is nicknamed "the funny-bone", because its Latin name is "Humerus".


Religious Implications

Jesus delberately created absurd images, to make his teaching more memorable.
"A camel trying to get through the eye of a needle".
"If the blind lead the blind,, they will both fall into the ditch".
I think the first joke in the Bible is Joseph's remark to his brothers, when he sent them off to fetch their father.
Now that he has revealed himself, and all the reconciliations have taken place, he can't resist adding the sly comment "Take care that you fall not out on the way".


What is the essence of laughter?

Recognition of the absurd (involving a sense of superiority over it).
Usually the strange. Sometimes the absurdly familiar (your mother says what she has said a thousand times before).
Or sometimes it might be a sense of relief, or a moment of breaking tension.


which brings me to the question can humor be weaponized?

This question has been answered by the Monty Python sketch about the man who invented the deadliest joke in the world, which was then tested by the military, tried out on the Germans, and immediately won the war.
[Ah, somebody else got there while I was typing]

I say, I say, I say, who was that lady I saw you with last night?
That was no lady, that was my wife.

My wife's gone off to the West Indies.
Jamaica?
No, she went of her own accord.

My wife's gone off to the East Indies.
Djakarta?
No. she went by plane.


edit on 12-10-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 01:47 PM
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a reply to: skunkape23
Thanks that was hilarious. I guess I'll be busy watching a lot of Monty Python on YT.



posted on Oct, 12 2015 @ 01:51 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
Wow. I appreciate your contributions. I wonder if there's any correlation to the word tumor, Latin tumere ‘to swell.’

edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2015 @ 04:42 AM
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"If you don't like my sense of humour, please tell me, so I can laugh at you."

Researchers have proposed 2 types of humor that each consist of 2 styles, making 4 styles in total. The two types are adaptive, and maladaptive humor. Adaptive humor consist of facilitative and self-enhancing humor, and maladaptive is self-defeating and aggressive humor. Each of these styles have impact on the psychological, and overall wellbeing of individuals, as well as clue to their general temperament and perspective:

Adaptive humour:
1. Affiliative style humor. Individuals with this dimension of humor tend to use jokes as a mean of affiliating relationships, amuse others, and reduce tensions.

2. Self-enhancing style humor. People that fall under this dimension of humor tend to take a humorous perspective of life. Individuals with self-enhancing humor tend to use it as a mechanism to cope with stress.

Maladaptive humour:
3. Aggressive humor. Racist jokes, sarcasm and disparagement of individuals for the purpose of amusement. This type of humor is used by people who do not consider the consequences of their jokes, and mainly focus on the entertainment of the listeners.

4. Self-defeating Humor. People with this style of humor tend to amuse others by using self-disparaging jokes, and also tend to laugh along with others when being taunted. It is hypothesized that people use this style of humor as a mean of social acceptance. It is also mentioned that these people may have an implicit feeling of negativity. So they use this humor as a mean of hiding that inner negative feeling.

This is all quite interesting op, s+f for you. I will be revisiting this thread to see what other contributions come along.

In the mean time, a quick gag or two from a couple of my personal favourite comedians xD




edit on 13-10-2015 by spygeek because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2015 @ 06:15 AM
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a reply to: spygeek
Perhaps these divisions are too neat.
I suggest that much "aggressive" humour is actually "affiliative" at the same time.
In both cases, a bond is made between A and B by a joke at the expense of something else.
If the "butt" of the joke is simply "a situation", then they would call it affiliative.
If the butt is a third party, the humour would be called aggressive. But they are really two versions of the same thing.

Then there is genuinely aggressive humour which egoistically attacks EVERYBODY around the speaker, and that is something else altogether.
In the political comedy series "The thick of it", Peter Capaldi plays the verbally aggressive spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, and the flow of his diatribes is a classic example of the type.

Conversely, self-disparaging humour also has affiliative intentions.

I think the distinction between "adaptive" and "maladaptive" is an artificial one, reflecting the valuation of approval/disapproval imposed by the researchers, rather then reflecting a genuine difference in behaviour.



posted on Oct, 13 2015 @ 08:29 AM
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Interesting, so we're dissecting humor now? I'll leave that to you guys, I'm a bit squirmish. I hope you're both wearing masks and gloves.

I'll just rattle off this questions running round my mind.
If the essence of laughter is the recognition of the absurd, were the existentialists the preeminent experts in humor? Like what Camus said in The Myth of Sisyphus:
“Man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world."
That's not even funny. How about Sartre and Kierkegaard, can we consider Kafka an absurdist or just a plain weird tight*ss?
Then there's the theatre of the absurd, playwrights like Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard etc. Funny as in weird not ha-ha funny?

How about prehistory? Did the Neanderthals already have the rudiments of language? Did they laugh while exchanging puns and inappropriate jokes or was it more of a slapstick type of painful poke on the ribs with a club?

How about the ancient monolithic structures, aren't they like colossal monuments of the middle finger, an FU sign that our ancestors left us? Sort of figure this out a**holes! Isn't that funny?

The weird phenomena in quantum physics, why does it only happen when observed? Is there some strange law that likes to put on a show?

All these and we're not even talking about humor and being politically correct.


Too much coffee?




edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2015 @ 03:34 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
Well, yeah, the researchers proposed artificial standards in order to make humour somewhat definable by states of character and intent, a goal so ludicrous as to be hilarious.. I think it is amusing there are even qualified "humour researchers" in the first place.. We all inherently know there is both positive and negative humour in practice.. xD

As the author E.B. White once said, "Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind."

To your questions, Max,
Camus' point I think was that inevitably, the joke, if there is one, is on us. We want to be reassured of our place and purpose in the world, but the world just looks at us and goes, "lolwut?"..

I personally am a huge fan of Kierkegaard, "People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me".. Brilliant xD

Sartre and other existentialists too have done the world a great service by showing that, particularly from a philosophical perspective, we have to be able to laugh at ourselves in order to truly know ourselves. Quotes like Sartre's "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you", and "Everything has been figured out, except how to live", or "Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth", give us perspective on the nature of our own desire to attain meaning and achieve worthiness in the face of an absurd existence..

Kafka was a bit weird, but he did provide some insight into the antilogic of institutional bureaucracy and the futility of the human desire for perfection. He definitely had some gems, "In the fight between you and the world, back the world", and especially "God gives the nuts, but He does not crack them". xD

Not sure about Neanderthal humour, or ancient ruins being a joke on us.. It seems like a lot of effort to spend decades building something just to flip off future humans.. Then again, humans are dicks, so why not?

Quantum physics is amusing, things like the outcome of an event is changed by measuring it, and particles split and separated by space react as if there were still one particle, could perhaps teach us a thing or two about whether the universe is in fact intelligent on some level, and when we dissect its smallest fields we find it reactive, displaying absurd behavouir just to mess with our nice neat, logical understanding..

Political correctness is the fear of accidentally offending the sensibilities of a person or persons. Which is itself amusing in that being offended is the pointless state of being adverse to an interpretation of something that was not intended to be offensive in the first place. Making the statement " I am offended by that" is basically the equivalent of saying "I have no sense of humour about myseld, or the thing you are talking about, or might be talking about, and the fact that you do unsettles me".

As Stephen Fry puts it: 'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so f***ing what?'

On the other side, there is the argument that being offended is a right, and to deny it is to deny people the ability to peacefully protest against what they don't agree with, as Penn describes in this obscentiy-heavyvideo:


At the end of the day, political correctness is a double edged sword.
edit on 13-10-2015 by spygeek because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2015 @ 04:12 PM
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Of course humour is very subjective.

Here two philosophers discuss (amongst other things) whether its possible for modern people to see the joke in a Leonardo da Vinci cartoon. "When it first came out, I bet people were killing themselves".



posted on Oct, 14 2015 @ 03:31 AM
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I had a conversation with a girlfriend yesterday, about a person we both knew, and who has the habit of expressing his criticisms through the use of humor. My brother does this too.

There is something that irritates me about that, and I had trouble analyzing why and putting it into words.

It seems passive-aggressive. In the case of both of these people, they tend to have a passive nature in general, always trying to avoid conflict.... and these "jokes" come out later- like commentary on events that happened in the past (either yesterday or years ago).

On one hand, I sometimes think- well, this is a good way to release built up tensions that have accumulated.

On the other hand, it denies the possibility of constructive criticism- meaning, offering the POV, and giving us a chance to exchange further on why I did the thing they are mocking, and to discuss some possible alternatives.

It eliminates the possibility of looking at the event together and coming to greater understanding of each other, and possibly enhancing our way of relating and behaving towards each other so that tension and judgement doesn't happen, or accumulate.

In both their cases, if you try to come back to it on a serious note, to open exchange, it is waved off with "I was just kidding" and fleeing.
With some people (these two in particular) humor seems to be used to avoid intimacy with others.



posted on Oct, 14 2015 @ 02:06 PM
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Wicked answers spygeek, I appreciate it, but I fear and tremble in your choice of favorite author.

So according to the experts life is a joke and probably most of us don't get it? Life is what we make of it while we're still alive if we ever did get the joke?

As DISRAELI pointed out, humor or rather humour is very subjective. I'm glad that both of you dissected it this early, well, somebody's got to do it. How about comparative humor? Say English as compared to American or those bizarre Japanese game shows and gag shows? I'm now a fan of Monty Python, I'm more into Benny Hill and Mr. Bean before.

Bluesma, maybe the fact that they just waive it off and avoid to try and discuss it seriously means that it's not a big deal? I like to kid around to put myself and others at ease and sometimes I get a lot of flak for it. We have to be always open to the possibility of being misunderstood and not to take ourselves too seriously at times. We all have our faults and sometimes we don't have much choice but to accept others for who they are... My apologies, I didn't mean to sound like Dr. Phil.

Speaking of taking something seriously by not taking it seriously, I love the Dadaist! They invite criticisms by criticizing and sometimes even went as far as insulting their audience. They are fully aware of the absurdity of life and art. Then André Breton took it upon himself to start Surrealism; yeah, the guy who said that “The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.”

I always hate it when I hear someone says " It was surreal..."

I couldn't find a copy of their manifesto on-line that Hans Richter reproduced in his book Dada: Art & Anti-art. Maybe I'll scan my copy and post it here, interesting layouts and typography.

edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2015 @ 05:23 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva
Wicked answers spygeek, I appreciate it, but I fear and tremble in your choice of favorite author.


who's that? asimov? or kierkegaard? to be honest my favourite author is probably john le carre... xD


So according to the experts life is a joke and probably most of us don't get it? Life is what we make of it while we're still alive if we ever did get the joke?


well, according to existential philosophy, finding humour in the world and the ability to laugh at yourself in the face, is a way we can deal with the despair we might feel when faced with our own mortality, lack of meaning, and existential inconsequence. According to Philosophy Professor Robert Solomon:

"The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I'm afraid we're losing the real virtues of living life passionately, sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it's a philosophy of despair. But I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre once interviewed said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. But one thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance of feeling on top of it. It's like your life is yours to create.

I've read the postmodernists with some interest, even admiration. But when I read them, I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more that you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented or marginalized, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It's something very concrete. It's you and me talking. Making decisions. Doing things and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are seven billion people in the world and counting. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms. Makes a difference to other people and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off and see ourselves as the victim of various forces. It's always our decision who we are."


As DISRAELI pointed out, humor or rather humour is very subjective. I'm glad that both of you dissected it this early, well, somebody's got to do it. How about comparative humor? Say English as compared to American or those bizarre Japanese game shows and gag shows? I'm now a fan of Monty Python, I'm more into Benny Hill and Mr. Bean before.


i love compartive humour, it serves to remind us to have a sense of humour about ourselves, and monty python do it well. in fact the united kingdom as a whole has a marvellous sense of humour about itself and the rest of the world...





Speaking of taking something seriously by not taking it seriously, I love the Dadaist! They invite criticisms by criticizing and sometimes even went as far as insulting their audience. They are fully aware of the absurdity of life and art. Then André Breton took it upon himself to start Surrealism; yeah, the guy who said that “The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.”

I always hate it when I hear someone says " It was surreal..."

I couldn't find a copy of their manifesto on-line that Hans Richter reproduced in his book Dada: Art & Anti-art. Maybe I'll scan my copy and post it here, interesting layouts and typography.


LOVE Dadaism, it teaches us important lessons.. "We, the founders of Dada-movement try to give time its own reflection in a mirror" -Kurt Schwitters

I too hate it when people use "surreal" to describe perfectly natural events. I often think "Now if your cat starts melting teapots with its mind i might be inclined to agree with the definition.."

Something i find rather amusing and fascinating is linguistics, and the way in which words can be reinterpreted to mean completely different things. When words are read or heard, there is a degree of subjective interpretation involved in discerning the meaning..


Humour is a fantastic device for experimenting with different principles of linguistics and proposing new ideas in new ways, which presented without an aspect humour might be wrongly interpreted or misunderstood..

edit on 14-10-2015 by spygeek because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2015 @ 07:31 PM
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a reply to: spygeek
So le Carre it is. Love Linklater's Waking Life. I can relate more to the self-deprecating English humor... I mean humour.

Chomsky who was rarely funny said something like we have to pay attention to what a person says and more to what that person avoids to say. What will humor be like if it was dissected by a linguist, a philosopher or a philologist? Not much fun?

To paraphrase Nietzsche: "That which doesn't makes us insane, makes us saner." Today is Nietzsche's 171st birthday.




edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2015 @ 08:13 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva
a reply to: spygeek
So le Carre it is. Love Waking Life. I can relate more to the self-deprecating English humor.

Chomsky who was rarely funny said something like we have to pay less attention to what a person says and more to what that person avoids to say. What will humor be like if it was dissected by a linguist, a philosopher or a philologist? Not much fun?

To paraphrase Nietzsche: "That which doesn't makes us insane, makes us saner." Today is Nietzsche's 171st birthday.


ah, good old chomsky.. not to be a chompeddler, but this was too good to resist: "Education is a system of imposed ignorance". o rly mister chomsky? is that your educated opinion on the matter?
i think i'm more on Friedrich's side when it comes to education..
"Education is rather liberation, a rooting out of all weeds, rubbish and vermin from around the buds of the plants, a radiation of light and warmth, a loving, whispering fall of night rain".

Happy Birthday Nietzche! Sorry you were so misunderstood and that the nazi's manipulated and ruined your philosophy to suit their own diabolical ends.. =(



edit on 14-10-2015 by spygeek because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 16 2015 @ 04:07 PM
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a reply to: spygeek
I kinda like old Noam, enough to name our cat after him and I agree to what he said about education. Just from my observation, the changes in the list of required reading in high school and colleges and there was a thread here recently about Japan doing away with the humanities courses. Why not require the kids to read the dialogues of Plato, Doestoesvski or the preeminent experts in humor?

Nietzsche is like the Robin Williams of philosophers, he likes to cluster-bomb his readers with aphorisms that will take sometime to fully ponder. Same with his music aphoristic.

How about music and humor? All I can think of now is Weird Al.

edit on 09 11 2015 by MaxTamesSiva because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 16 2015 @ 04:25 PM
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originally posted by: MaxTamesSiva
a reply to: spygeek
I kinda like old Noam, enough to name our cat after him and I agree to what he said about education. Just from my observation, the changes in the list of required reading in high school and colleges and there was a thread here recently about Japan doing away with the humanities courses. Why not require the kids to read the dialogues of Plato, Doestoesvski or the preeminent experts in humor?


you make a valid point, and i must admit my ignorance of the american educational system, i had read that quote out of context and assumed noam was talking about education as a whole. here in nz we are encouraged to read and interpet philosophy and i even remember writing an essay on the irrationality of solipsism for social studies when i was 15..

noam is a respectable fellow, his work on logic and linguistics has been very important. I admire his stance on free speech and his critical view of american democracy, his opinion of exclusionary intellectual communities is spot on. I very much agree with this stance that 9/11 conspiracy theory is false. It is a shame he has been so marginalised by the american media. actually, now that i think more about the man, i think i'd better retract my earlier derogatory "chompeddler" comment.


Nietzsche is like the Robin Williams of philosophers, he likes to cluster-bomb his readers with aphorisms that will take some time to fully ponder. Same with his music aphoristic.


a very apt comparison indeed! i rather like that, "the robin williams of philosophers", hope you don't mind me stealing it.


How about music and humor? All I think of now is Weird Al.


hehe, good old weird al. there are some marvelous musical comedians out there xD

good old bill bailey does it very well:




i love and am quite proud of these guys:



how about musical comedy relating to philosophy?

edit on 16-10-2015 by spygeek because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 16 2015 @ 04:58 PM
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a reply to: spygeek

Very true about here in the UK having a funny poke at the Ginger mist folk.





edit on 16-10-2015 by boymonkey74 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 16 2015 @ 05:08 PM
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originally posted by: boymonkey74
a reply to: spygeek

Very true about here in the UK having a funny poke at the Ginger mist folk.


haha! xD it's not just you guys





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