osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Discussing the NAture of Humor

Perhaps it is because I just reread Moon Is a Harsh Mistress but tried to give Aaron a lesson in humor.

Q: What is the one funeral every Cohen Gadol (high priest) attends?

Aaron ran through several good guesses. First he tried to see if it was one of the relationships mentioned in this week's portion as applying to regular cohanim. Then he said "If the cohen gadol finds someone dead and no one else cann take care of it." I agreed that this was an exception to the usual rule that High Priest must avoid contaminating himself with ritual impurity, but that this did not apply to every Cohen Gadol.

Then Aaron asked if the Cohen Gadol attended the funeral of the previous Cohen Gadol. Also a good gues, and I said he was close, but no, that wasn't it.

Tha answer of course is: "his own."

Aaron objected that people don't attend their own funerals. I explained that this is part of the nature of humorous riddles. Some riddles are description riddles where you get clues to try to figure out the answer. Since I had read him The Hobbit some time ago, he could use those as examples. But other kinds of riddles are meant to be humorous. They require a funny way of looking at things or contain a trick. For example, "John has two older sisters and no brothers. His mother named her first child Anna Marie, because she was born in the morning. She named the next child Pamella Marcie, because she was born in the evening. When the third child was born at Noon, what did John's mother call it?"

Answer: John. The humor derives from creating a false pattern after actually revealing the answer.

Aaron, who is something of a literalist at this stage, did not understand why these riddles are funny. Perhaps I just tell them wrong.

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