Why are misunderstandings so funny?
What’s your favourite misunderstanding?
But before that – I’m an absolute sucker for these kinds of things!
From ‘Engrish funny’ mistranslations or words out of context to the attached video showing broken communication leading to ‘hilarious consequences’.
I suspect the way I go – one day – may be from laughter-induced apoplexy at a particularly funny fake text 🙂
I think this is what’s at the root of some (all?) humour: #reframing.
Either we see the situation one way, and then suddenly, it changes:
A gorilla dies of old age at a zoo right before the zoo opens. It is the only gorilla at the zoo since they are not very profitable.
However, the gorilla is their most popular attraction by far, and they can’t afford to go a day without it. So the zoo owner asks one of his workers to wear a gorilla suit they have in storage for an extra $100 a day if he will go in the gorilla cage and pretend to be the gorilla until the zoo can afford a new one.
Quickly, the new “gorilla” becomes the most popular craze at the zoo. People from all over are coming to see the “Human-like” gorilla.
About a month in, the craze has started to wear off. So, to get peoples’ attention back, he decides to climb over his enclosure and hang from the net ceiling above the lions’ den next to him. A large crowd of people gather watching the spectacle in awe and terror. Suddenly the man loses his grip and falls to the floor of the lion’s den. The man starts screaming “HELP!! HELP!!!” Suddenly a lion pounces him from behind and whispers in his ear, “Shut the EFF up right now or you’re going to get us both fired.”
OR we know that a character is seeing the situation one way, and we know it’s horribly wrong.
In the video above (I’m sharing as a fan – obviously I don’t have the copyright), Count Arthur Strong is going for a flying lesson – but everyone is confused about time because the clocks have gone back. This creates the possibility of further misunderstanding.
Just watch them walking to the plane 😀
A third version: attempts to communicate break down because one character is inadvertently triggering the wrong context:
Take the conversations about directions in the film ‘Clockwise’:
‘Turn left!’ ‘Right, right’ ‘No, left’ ‘Right – left’ ‘Right’ ‘What, right?’ ‘No, left!!’ ‘Ok, right’ ‘Right’ ‘Right?’ ‘Right!’…
In a work context, we get stuck in ways of framing situations.
A simple reframe can create opportunities to think differently – to see the situation afresh, with new eyes and new possibilities.
- I hope people enjoy this on a windy Monday here in the UK! Here are some links:
- the brilliant Count Arthur Strong https://www.countarthurstrong.com/
- the gorilla joke – one of my favourites https://www.reddit.com/r/Jokes/comments/q2d0s4/a_gorilla_dies_of_old_age_at_a_zoo_right_before/
- see my post on ‘metaphor’ for some more reframing https://www.linkedin.com/posts/antlerboy_presentation-on-metaphor-concepts-activity-6787263257741787137-rU8a/
- and on conscious organisations for some more philosophical implications of this (and the Gorilla joke again – don’t you know jokes get funnier every time you retell them?) https://www.linkedin.com/posts/antlerboy_sensemaking-and-foundations-that-enable-change-activity-6856483788000755712-WMAr/
- the other thing, since I’m here, that will always pick me up when I’m down is people who are out of context and *just don’t care* – how could you be sad when performing Double Dream Hands? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm7yAWpX1Mc
- Fudging autocucumbers (fake texts) are *so* hilarious to me – the concept of accidental uncontrolled miscommunication just tickles me https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/funniest-autocorrect-faiils-2014_n_6391880 or https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LadyGrey40/autocorrect-funnies/ or https://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewziegler/autocorrect-fails-of-the-decade … or so on…
- Here’s the first, crucial, ‘left?’ ‘right!’ mix-up in the John Cleese film Clockwise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T5UG1GRe2A
- Original ‘Engrish funny’ (no https as so old) https://www.engrish.com/
- Similar things can be achieved with AI: https://www.aiweirdness.com/new-breakfast-cereals-from-ai/
- Also shopping fails – ‘what I thought I ordered’ vs ‘what I got’…. https://www.boredpanda.com/funny-online-shopping-fails/