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The above cartoon had a very polarizing effect on folks. I got more than the usual high-fives for a good gag and quite a few complaints, some with profanity. And I don’t blame those who were offended at all. I’m glad they wrote to me, in fact, because it brings up an interesting point about comedy that goes hand-in-hand with one I made in last week’s post about “punching up vs. punching down.” (Here’s last week’s post if you want to catch up.)

If you think the above cartoon is offensive, you’re not alone and I can easily see why you did. You naturally feel sorry for the defenseless old man and he may even remind you of someone in your own life whom you lost or who is not well. That’s perfectly natural and commendable. So since this person is more-or-less defenseless against these bratty kids and their cruel joke, am I punching down?

No. Because the joke does not make fun of people who are old or disabled in a way that generally attacks all old or disabled people. The cartoon is not making a judgment about the elderly or ridiculing them in any way. You can feel sorry for the old man and that’s appropriate, but he isn't real so there is no victim, the same as if I’d shown a person slipping on a banana peel. The character is fictional, so there is no “real” victim.

Instead of this gag being a punching-up or punching-down type joke, it instead falls firmly into the category of black humor, which is a time-honored and psychologically valuable human activity that helps us deal with the things we fear most by laughing about them. That’s why there are so many jokes about death and why slapstick humor often makes us laugh in spite of ourselves. Black humor can be edgy, but it doesn’t attack a class of people in the real world so it doesn’t warrant getting offended by.

That said, I offer a heartfelt apology to anyone who was hurt by this cartoon because it reminded them of people in their own lives. That wasn’t my intention and I’m sorry to have caused you to get angry enough to call me names. I’ve lost my shit on folks and said stuff my Mom wouldn’t approve of, too, so I get it. And for those who wrote to complain but didn’t use profanity, I appreciate your civility. We could all use a lot more of that these days.

And now it’s time to find out what categories of comedy Wayno was employing this week…

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If Captain Kangaroo were recording today, it would be Hip-Hop, of course. He might even do a little acting on the side at a local Pocket Theater. (These comments are a prime example of marsupial humor.)

BTW: In real life, Wayno is a diehard vintage record nerd and has a very fun collection. On his blog post this week, he shares a photo of a very cool vintage 45 by Cap’n K himself! Check it out and come right back!

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I assume this pet sleeps under her six-year-old son’s bed. I don’t even want to think about what he eats.

The topic of disgusting pet habits brings to mind my featured item of the week in our Bizarro Shop: the satirical veterinary cat poster. I love that thing! And just imagine the deep, enduring joy you’ll experience when you hear the peals of laughter emanating from the pieholes of your friends as they notice it!

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I see a series of cat-based horror stories: The Claw Sharpening, The Plant Eating, The Knocking Things Off of Shelves and Tables, The Fur Ball Olympics… (We welcome your ideas about further episodes.)

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I have to hand it to this dude. Most people can’t spin that fast while eating.

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It’s getting more difficult all the time to find a shop that does pegicures.

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He’s also gained the ability to locate loopholes in tax law and hide money in offshore webs.

And that brings us to the end of the Slip-n-Slide, Jazz Pickles. Thanks for getting wet with us. If you enjoy what we do and that we give it away for free here, please consider showing your appreciation by patronizing one or more of the links below. We’ll be singing your name around the campfire at Rancho Bizarro.

Until next week, be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism.

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Dan Piraro17 Comments