I'm stunned by the things that pass as humor these days. All of the movies by Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Mike Myers, and company... they are utterly lost on me. I don't find them the least bit funny. Perhaps I'm too serious for my own good; perhaps I'm just tuned differently. Were the comedic talents of my childhood all that different?
I wasn't an Airplane or National Lampoon fan, and didn't even tune into Saturday Night Live with any regularity. There was Lucille Ball, to be sure, the Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder duo, and shows like Sanford & Son and Soap (that surely sent at least half of the jokes well over my head). The outlandish kookiness of Mel Brooks was borderline for me. Films like Young Frankenstein (now a Broadway musical) and High Anxiety elicited a few chuckles, but certainly no guffaws.
These days, even though I know the guy who directed the Austin Powers series, as well as Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, and Dinner for Schmucks, I can't bring myself to watch any of his movies. He's a swell guy, despite having also produced Borat and Brüno, both of which I also refuse to endure.
The outside perimeters of my humor fall along the lines of Arrested Development, 30Rock, and Will & Grace, with my comfort zone being more in step with the comic stylings of Janeane Garofalo, Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, and Paula Poundstone. Even Jon Stewart, whom I adore, talks about balls a little bit too much for my liking. I want to think as I laugh, it seems. Over the top is just too much for me, although I will admit to absolutely loving South Park.
As deeply psychological as it was, Inception ruled the box office for several weeks. It had enough chase scenes and gunfire to even fend off the advances of Angelina Jolie's SALT and the knuckledheadedness of Dinner for Schmucks. But then, Ferrell's The Other Guys was released last weekend and his frat-boy humor overcame Leonardo DiCaprio's analytical prowess to reign supreme. Eat, Pray, Love is set to come out this weekend, though it would take a mound of date nights to knock The Other Guys off the top.
Perhaps it's an American thing, this obsession with pratfalls, overblown stereotypes, and dick jokes. They are certainly easy laughs. It reminds me of an episode of South Park wherein Cartman goes to Hollywood to pitch ideas for movies. He throws out every ridiculous scenario he can think of and adds Adam Sandler to it... and the powers that be think he's a genius.