Why Can't Funny People Be Smart (and vice versa)?  

Posted by Heidi in

A few years back, when I mentioned to an acquaintance (we were working in the nursery with not much to do but actually interact with the children. So we were talking.) that I had just sold an article to the Ensign magazine, she said, “Oh! I didn’t think of you as being, you know, serious. You’re always kind of goofy and funny.” Not being quick on my mental feet, I wasn’t sure how to respond. After the day I have had today, however, I am full of it. Responses, I mean—just full to brimming with ‘em.

I ask you, does being funny (or silly or goofy, or the dreaded but apt “airhead”) mean you are also somehow unintelligent, even dumb? Lacking seriousness? Unable to process anything but a joke? Or, worse, yet, not spiritual enough for the Ensign? I mean, I wasn’t the R.S. President at the time (or since—or even before, though I have served in five RS presidencies) but still . . .

I have to admit, it is partially my fault. In junior high, when I met with ridicule and nearly wholesale rejection for using real words, the very words I was reading in books every day, (such as “ejaculate”-- it does have a variety of applications even if most haven’t noticed) I chose to tone it down. My survival was at stake, after all. As a result, I unconsciously evolved to “funny” (and, I admit, a bit silly)—it certainly makes people feel more comfortable if you can make them laugh instead of wonder what the heck you’re trying to say. Or why you’re saying it. In mixed company! Not only does that open one up to ridicule and misunderstanding, but I have found that using “big” words tempts people to categorize you as a snob. That would be bad. I have been slotted as worse but there’s not much I can do about being seen as the mom whose kids are “moody”, who desperately needs a celebrity stylist and who seems blithely unaware that her large, adolescent, mentally-disabled son is standing on the table at the ward party.

Some of you out there might be thinking, “Hey, if this woman thinks she’s funny, she really IS dumb!”. To which I say, Hey! Then I say, “Hey, (again) I write a humor blog!” At least, I tell myself it is a humor blog. At the very least, some of the people with whom I share genetic material are laughing, even if it is at me, not with me. “And, I wrote a novel (which will be published, no less!) that I consider amusing.” It had me snorting milk out of my nose during a recent read-through, but then, I’m prejudiced. However, lastly, I would add, “There are a few kind souls who have commented on my blog saying they appreciate my sense of humor.” So, let’s say that’s indelible proof that I can be funny. At times. But, apparently, not so smart. At least, not based on some of the experiences I have had today.

I really had no idea so many people saw me as such a light-weight until I launched my own website, an official one, for my “author” persona, as opposed to my "blog" persona. To some, the fact that I put it together all by myself was astonishing. To others, the idea that the photographs were taken by me was unthinkable. Still, to others, the fact that I had actually penned a tome was so beyond the realm of their imagination, they couldn’t even process the idea. It was if I had said, “my eyes are green”. Their reply-- “That’s nice, dear” while mentally rolling their eyes at each other in the way that says, “She gets this way sometimes, just play along . . . . “

Honest! That did happen! Except, I didn’t say “my eyes are green” which is something they could see for themselves and really isn’t worth mentioning, anyway. So, if it’s worth mentioning, I find that people don’t think of funny people as smart or smart people as funny. Unless you are my dad (who is famous for his smarts as well as his humor). Or a man--any man. Or able to do multiplication in your head, and in an amusing way to boot, or if you get paid to be both funny and smart (the almighty dollar speaks!), or if you write a humor column for the New York Times (do they have a humor column in the NYT?), or, OR, (this is a good one), if you are on the high council and your audience is awake long enough to laugh at all the right places!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at Wednesday, July 16, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 wise, witty and wonderful comments

A lightweight you say, what type of people do you associate with, a lightweight, the idea. You are a Baldwin and that alone makes the possibility of you being a lightweight (in the gray matter sense) totally impossible, toss that fact out to the next person that treats you with an air of superiority. However, if one is thinking about being a lightweight in the literal sense, alas, I only wish people found it within themselves to think of Moi as a lightweight. Oh well, have a great day you deep thinker you!

July 17, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Roxanne, you make me laugh! An air of superiority is something Baldwin's really have the hang of, huh? I can do that! Thanks!

July 17, 2008 at 10:19 AM

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