The humor problem

Subject: The humor problem
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 19:49:25 -0800

My response to Jason Willebeek-Lemair was and attempt, albeit a lame
one, to humorously demonstrate the behavior Jason described. Jason's
was expressing frustration at the childish behavior of those who use
their opinions about technical writing as weapons. Which is a
legitimate technical communications topic (certainly one I can
comprehend). I merely responded to that in a childish way. It's a
joke! A joke that also makes a point.

I fail to see why it is wrong for a person to express a serious idea
in a funny or irreverent way. This is not the United Nations. Where
is it written that all serious ideas must be expressed in a dull,
monotonous voice? This demonstrates another legitimate technical
communications issue: when is it okay to be funny? Is it a good idea
to use humor in your writing? I do, look where it gets me. Maybe
that says something about communication in general? What can we learn
from these tirades? That communication is subjective? That humor is
dangerous? That I have no friends?

Yeah, I am a big dork with a loud mouth and a seriously over-inflated
opinion of myself. Hey, you might have to work with a jerk like me
someday. Think of this as training.

In spite of my jerkiness I try to always stay focused on serious
technical writing issues - even if I express those ideas in irreverent
ways. I also try to make people laugh. There are a lot of funny
things in our profession that scream to be satirized and laughed at
sometimes. Sometimes when things are satired we can appreciate them
better because we can see the lunacy in them.

Likewise, I fear a world where humor is removed to protect the few
that "don't get it." Humor and satire are ultimately subjective. In
my subjective opinion, they are also the most advanced form of human
communication. As actors like to say, comedy is MUCH harder than

I think the mere fact that some people loathe me and see me as
childish suggests two things:

1) I am childish.
2) I am occasionally thought provoking.

That's enough to keep me going. 50.1% is all I need to stay afloat.

Mostly, I would rather act like a child than act like some of the
adults I know.

Now get back to work before I tell Mom on you.

Andrew Plato

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