Thursday, March 29, 2012

Humor as the great international connector



In 2002, Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire conducted a study in an attempt to find a joke that people all over the world find funny. After pitting joke against joke, he found that the following joke and the most international appeal:
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gun shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"
I've been thinking a lot about humor since I got to Afghanistan. Not only because I miss doing comedy, but because after two weeks working with people from all over the world, I am learning that humor, laughter, and a cheerful demeanor are among the most powerful tools to bridging communications and cultural gaps. Some of the people I am working with are of English-speaking nations, but most are not. But for whatever reason, we all seem to make each other laugh. In only two weeks, I've laughed with people from Eastern and Western Europe, from down under and the real-life home of Middle Earth, and even from Afghanistan.

One of the funniest things I noticed also was that some bodily odor jokes also translate well. In one of my first days here, one of the personnel from one of our partner nations told a fart joke at dinner that made our whole party laugh. And then a few days later, one of my European co-workers took off his shoes in the office. I counted no fewer than three people from three different country walk by and remark that he needed to put his shoes back on.

So stinky feet jokes are universal. I never would have guessed.

Word has also gotten around that I performed stand-up comedy. I've told several people how did what I did on the stage. When a one of the local Afghans I work with found out, he talked to me about Afghanistan humor, which is definitely far behind American humor in terms of showbiz. But here in Afghanistan they laugh at folk tales of Nasruddin, a poor Don Chixote-like character who reacts to situations with wit, wisdom, and an odd way of looking at things. These tales have been passed on for generations through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and much of the rest of Southeast Asia. Each Nasruddin tale has a twist on the end, some of which I have found funny and some that are definitely lost in translation.

Here is a Nasruddin tale:
MORE USEFUL

ONE DAY MULLAH NASRUDDIN ENTERED HIS FAVORITE TEAHOUSE AND SAID: 'THE MOON IS MORE USEFUL THAN THE SUN'.  AN OLD MAN ASKED 'WHY MULLAH?'  NASRUDDIN REPLIED 'WE NEED THE LIGHT MORE DURING THE NIGHT THAN DURING THE DAY.'
And here is another:
OBLIGATION

NASRUDDIN NEARLY FELL INTO A POOL ONE DAY.  A MAN WHOM HE KNEW SLIGHTLY WAS NEARBY, AND SAVED HIM.  EVERY TIME HE MET NASRUDDIN AFTER THAT HE WOULD REMIND HIM OF THE SERVICE WHICH HE HAD PERFORMED.  WHEN THIS HAD HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES NASRUDDIN TOOK HIM TO THE WATER, JUMPED IN, STOOD WITH HIS HEAD JUST ABOVE WATER AND SHOUTED: "NOW I AM AS WET AS I WOULD HAVE BEEN IF YOU HAD NOT SAVED ME! LEAVE ME ALONE.
They are definitely interesting little anecdotes.

I'm sure as I continue in my year in Afghanistan, I'll find more pieces of the Afghanistan cultural and comedy scene. But for now, here are a few articles I found on comedy in Afghanistan.

Putting the Laffs in Laffghanistan - Splitsider.com, 17 August 2011

In Afghanistan, comedians joke their way to civic renewal - Christian Science Monitor - 23 Feb 2005

The Ministry Sends Up The Afghan Government - Splitsider.com, 4 Aug 2011

And here are a few on an Afghan-born, Florida-raised comic who returned to Kabul in 2001 and performed pranks and hijinks up until recently, when after realizing social progress was taking too long, finally moved back to the states.

This "Jihadi" is Armed With a Subversive Sense of Humor - Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2011

In Afghanistan, Performance Artist Packs Up His Bling - NPR.com, 7 Oct 2011

Aman Mojadidi - Good-bye Homeland - Slash.fr

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Joy of Taking a Shit



This poem was given to me by an individual named Richard L. Myers of Monett, Missouri. I went to Basic Training in 1995 with Richard and although I kept this poem that I believe he wrote, I have never heard from him since. So thank you, Richard L. Myers. Thank you for a brilliant poem. Warning: it's a bit NSFW and not for little old ladies.

The Joy of Taking a Shit

There are many joys in life it's said
Though none like squatting on the head
Your pants are down, your cares are gone
You've got a few hours to sit on the john
You lock the door, you smile - so bold
You hope the toilet seat's not cold
All of the cares of the world melt away
As you sit down to take your first shit of the day
The seat has a screw loose, you wobble, you totter
You hear your first turd plop in the water
You grunt and you fart, your piss starts to drain
You push it so hard you rupture your brain
You catch the first whiff of your brown steamy load
You feel like your bowels are about to explode
You drop the rest of your dump in the bowl
You wipe, you flush, the shit goes down the hole
You wipe one more time just to get the last bit
Yes, those are the joys of taking a shit
You hop off the pot and head down the hall
Oh wait, you turn around, you didn't get it all
You yank down your pants, put your ass on the lid
You check out your drawers - thank God there's no skid
A couple more turds come out - plop, plop, plop
You feel like this shit ain't ever going to stop
Your head is now spinning, for you have to choose
Between Time, Playboy, Life, or your own local news
You pick up the Playboy - the reading is better
and that's why the pages are all stuck together
You squeeze out the rest of your shit with a sigh
And reach for your new roll of T.P. - 2-ply
You wipe your ass and you say with a smile,
"Well, that oughta hold me - at least for a while."
You flush, wash your hands, and walk out of the john
Leaving only the smell of your shit lingering on.
As you march off to go to bed for the night
You know that taking a shit is All Right.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jordi Scrubbings Elvis commercial for All-Stars Wrestling of Florida

All-Stars Wrestling of Florida was a wrestling promotion run by friends of mine. It was like we had our own little corner of the pro wrestling universe. Sure, that's not a great way to run a business and ASWFL did in fact close after two years, but it was fun to go to a wrestling show where I knew most of the wrestlers and the fans. After time, I even knew most of the staff at the bar where the shows were held.

Anyway, while ASWFL was doing its thing in 2009 I attended a Florida Championship Wrestling event and cut a short commercial for an ASWFL event. About a month ago, it surfaced on YouTube. It's not my best commercial, but it's here for history.