My personal opinion is that it’s important in life to remind yourself that some things are not funny even if they might make you laugh. The story of a woman who got her sexy belly button ring stuck while swimming in a pool is a current example. Huffington Post reports the story, which is quite clearly not funny:
GREELEY, Colo. — Firefighters in Colorado say a woman’s belly button ring became entangled with a drain cover in a shallow splash pool but that she was freed without injury.
Authorities say the woman became stuck Wednesday as she floated on her stomach with her child in a shallow pool at the Greeley Family Funplex.
Firefighters tried to turn the ring to free her but then started to drain the pool while working to manipulate the ring.
They said Thursday that she eventually was freed and she wasn’t hurt in the process.
The above news story is without doubt not funny and the poor woman deserves our sympathy. That she was unharmed may cause some Disinfonaughts difficulty when they consider the fact her unpredictable fate was clearly not funny. After all how was she to know that body modification might entail a certain level of caution?
The not funny genre shifts up a notch when a fatality is involved. The cold finger of death means it is even more vital that the untrained brain understands something is not funny. Well known examples often include people who are killed by wild animals. Steve Erwin, and the lesser known Timothy Treadwell, illustrate the point very well. Everybody knows that, Mr Erwin, was clearly an unfortunate victim of lady luck. Who could have expected the care-free “crocodile hunter” famous for his cavalier attitude to dangerous animals would ever have ended up being killed by one?
Even now it seems unthinkable. Why oh why does fate do such awful things?
The lesser known Timothy Treadwell, subject of the cult film “Grizzly Man”, is similar and even more not funny. An avid animal rights activist, Timothy knew in his heart of hearts that man eating grizzly bears were in fact just misunderstood. So, he decided to live amongst them in their natural habitat of Alaska. Amazingly, and by another weird quirk of fate, they ate him and his girlfriend alive!
None of these situations are funny.
My brain just, you know, in its unguarded moments, forgets that fact and lets out a little laugh. I mentioned this to a colleague once and she looked right into my eyes and said “that’s not nice”. I tried to explain that I knew it was not funny. I just sort of have a brain that won’t listen to the facts when it comes to not laughing at things. The more annoyed she became the more confused my brain became about what is not funny. This set up a sort of negative feedback loop where she got angrier and angrier and I felt like a kid in a classroom who has been told to stop laughing.
US and UK Disinfonaughts may be familiar with the TV show Jeremy Kyle. It’s a masterpiece of not funny incidents. A recent instant classic on the UK version featured two men who had been having a full homosexual relationship with each other after meeting on the internets. They’d realised they might actually be related and so had a DNA test to find out that, yes in fact they were! The two brothers were devastated by the news and burst into fits of hysterical tears. Once their story was finished (with the show title ‘Am I having sex with my brother?’ and the answer now being a firm ‘yes’) Kyle, with a straight face, actually turned to his audience and said: “give them a round of applause guys!”.
Again, I know that’s not funny, my brain just really thought it was at the time. It’s an ongoing learning process for all of us I guess.
Commentators who can locate examples of things which they know to be not funny are encouraged to point them out. Many people need help with this one. There’s nothing worse than being the only one in the room who hasn’t noticed that something is in fact not funny at all.
 Popular website The Darwin Awards helpfully provides a list of not funnies to aid the confused.
 The cult film in question is a genuinely moving masterpiece: Grizzly Man.
In the real world I'm a freelance TV/radio presenter. I've worked for LBC, Kerrang Radio, The Bay, Edge Media TV, Hallam FM and The BBC.
My podcast is here: http://thecultofnick.libsyn.com/
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