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08 August 2011 @ 12:23 pm
Post for the humor impaired  
(Summary at bottom of post)

@Wilw recently Tweeted

Panhandler did not appreciate my thoughtful critique of his angle. My advice was EASILY worth more than a dollar, ya lousy bum.


I wrote this journal entry so Wil wouldn't have to. He's got better stuff to do. He has a wife, a son, friends, a career, role playing gaming, a podcast, a toaster, and a dog in that order. If you have looked here, you are either being educated as to why this was delivered as funny, you want to see how humor works, or you are adding to the mockery of the people who took Wil seriously as disliking the homeless.

Humor is a form of delivery where someone says something, expecting the other person to laugh. It arises from a mental conflict that is resolved, invoking laughter in the recipient. Ironic humor is where someone says something that is the opposite of what is commonly perceived as true for the same result, often in direct opposition of their normal attitude. It is higher level of humor that has this flow:

1. Deliverer says a common that is socially unpleasant.
2. Receiver hears the unpleasant comment, and feels conflict
3. Receiver has the mental facility to understand that it was not meant truthfully. This is an added step where someone can sympathize with another's thoughts and understand that this is in conflict with another's thoughts.
4. Seeing the conflict resolved, laughter is invoked. "He was being sarcastic/ironic!"

People took offense at this tweet because they did not expect ironic humor. Here is the joke explained.

1. "Panhandler did not appreciate my thoughtful critique of his angle." The words used in this phrase were used in a syntax that was a little more complex than required. This is part of the setup. It implies that Wil was imitating the higher educated as thinking of themselves as better than other people, notably people who ask for money on the street. This is known as "mockery," but not of the panhandler, but of his portrayal of a higher breed of human on the social scale.

2. "My advice was EASILY worth more than a dollar," he continues. This is probably a jab on Hollywood and the esoteric vague quality of advice which people pay for. The subtlety of this comment is hardened by years of listening to bad advice from people in media production, like program managers, many of whom consider their advice to be so valuable, that giving it away for free is a rare treat. This is commonly seen as stupid except for the people who actually believe themselves. Wil has not bridged the mockery from a snooty set-up to the delivery of sarcasm.

3. While the joke could have ended there, Wil punctuates the remark with a twist, by adding, "ya lousy bum." This is a stark contrast to the syntax of the language previously presented. Thus the joke is funny in two ways: one, it mocks the arrogant, and then ends it with a more guttural, "commoner," response. This exposes the mocked snooty person as being no better than a commoner after all.

To further clarify the delivery of this Tweet, I shall expose it literally.

"I am making fun of a person (via method acting) of higher social class that was confused as to why someone of a lower social class did not understand why advice into how he asks for money was not accepted as valuable. This person would assume that the person of lower social class was mistaken if he did not believe that his advice was worth a great deal more than one US Dollar. Then I let the persona I am acting out collapse to expose that he is nothing more than a schoolyard bully via a taunting jeer that would not be common to someone of higher breeding."

Summary: He was kidding, and mocking snooty people. Get a sense of humor.