Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Anthropromorphism - The Comedy

I have a confession to make - talking animals make me laugh. In everyday life they usually don't say much, and I toss in dialogue for them if the moment seems to warrant it. Some speak for themselves, but that's another story. But in movies, television shows, or commercials, my funny bone wigs out when an animal chatters away. It truly is my comic kryptonite.

It's so bad that others turn and stare. I can't help it. I know it's wrong. I have a film degree, for pete's sake. This should be serious stuff. I shouldn't guffaw uncontrollably at a talking pig.I shouldn't wax eloquent on the best episodes of Mr. Ed. At the very least I should be selective about what gets me going, but I can't. I laugh at each and every one, from the formidable Budweiser lizards right down to the insipid golden retriever on the Bush's baked beans commercial. Really, though, that poor dog was given the worst lines ever, with no support from the other actors, and truly feeble special effects. Never mind that the lighting was all wrong. Poor pup will probably never work again. He knows it, too. Look in his eyes and you can tell he's thinking, when this is over, I am SO gonna pee in my agent's shoe.

The worst are the advertisements, since they catch me by surprise. Suddenly a border collie is schlepping pizza and I'm rolling on the couch. At least with a movie or TV show I can steady myself, grit my teeth, and think sobering thoughts. But put Yogi Berra and a duck together and I need insurance against giggling to death.

I've sat unblinking through some supposedly funny shows. I can keep a straight face when delivering a punch line. I can even stretch the truth with the best of them, look someone straight in the eye and tell them a whopper. Unless a talking animal is in the vicinity. Then I lose it.
I consulted an expert on this phenomenon. He said this trait is far more prevalent that one would think. He also mentioned that worms were tasty-

Me: So, what's up, Duck?

Doc: Quack!

Me: Yes, that was a cheap shot, but do you really think it's helpful to make fun of my condition like that? You're supposed to be helping me.

Doc: Quack!

Me: I know you are but what am I?

Later I realized he was trying to help me confront my funny demons - fighting funny with funny, so to speak. Still, it hurt. If I could associate this pain with talking animals, perhaps I'd gain some control over my giggles.
What would Dr. Doolittle do? Think about it. He was the only one animals could talk to. That meant if they had a problem, they went to him and only him. And talked. And talked. Poor sap.

Imagine if you spoke a language that no one else did. One day you found someone who also spoke your language. You'd talk their ear off, right? Poor Doolittle was chattered at 24/7, especially since most animals don't share our social graces of knowing when to shut the heck up. Which reminds me - just forget I mentioned anything about giggling at talking animals.

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