Episode 267: Mormon Humor

10 comments on “Episode 267: Mormon Humor”

  1. Brian Reply

    There’s a particular brand of humor that is beautiful, hilarious, and incredibly difficult to achieve. Mormons are masters of this type of humor, even though they don’t know it, and it’s called “Camp.”

    A lot of gay men (including myself) have a particular appetite for campy things. It might be a movie that’s described as “so bad that it’s good!” or simply an artistic creation that shot for the stars but fell flat on it’s face. It can be a lamp that’s shaped like a woman’s leg, or a pair of neon blue corduroy trousers that someone, at sometime, thought was a great idea. It might deal with problems that were once serious but appear bizarre to a modern viewer, such as the film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

    Camp is really difficult to define, but you always know it when you see it. It can be intentional camp, like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” or it can be unintentional, like “Saturday’s Warrior.” LDS art is almost always the latter, which I think is the greater form. Camp is amazing because it transcends our objective standards of good and bad. We might know that an LDS roadshow or film is horribly executed, but the humor and pleasure we receive from watching “Ephraim’s Rescue” (You’d need a heart of stone to not laugh while watching Tommy dance with his miraculously cured feet) is legitimate and valuable to us. Camp is an appreciation for the sheer effort that’s put into an artistic creation. And now I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll just say great show! Lindsay always does an excellent job at hosting when Jon’s gone.

  2. Aaron Reply

    My credentials: avid mormon-themed podcast listener, active mormon, probably 65% believer on an overall scale. Pretty sure I’ve listened to every single mormon expression episode. The heydays were the days when Glenn and Tom were on it. But I still enjoy it and download every week. I pick and choose FMH podcasts, absolutely digging the year in Polygamy series that Lindsay is doing over there. Aaron is not my real name, I’m way too cowardice to put my name out there.

    I think this episode was maybe the worst ME episode ever. As a lifelong Mormon with a good sense of humor (evidenced by winning a funniest guy in my hall award at John Hall – so there), having known so many hilarious Mormons, this episode was garbage. Rarely insightful, mostly offensive and full of stupid stereotypes told by non-funny people.

    Some insight:

    – Discussion of conference humor, how our deference to leadership leads us to laugh at non-funny jokes. While true, how is this any different than office humor (you laugh at your boss’s jokes). Or TED talk humor. I do find the discussion of why we laugh at stuff like that interesting, but I don’t see this as a Mormon thing by any means. None of us would pay money to hear church conference humor at a comedy club.

    – Racist/Sexist/fat jokes: I too grew up with the kind of humor Lindsay described (“Woman, get in the kitchen”) jokes in the air. Maybe not inundated, but it’d be disingenuous to say they didn’t exist. I’d like to know if non-Mormons in the 70’s and 80’s had similar experiences, if Mormonism had higher instances of these types of jokes. There was a lot of shooting from the hip with these types of discussions, I don’t think anyone on the panel knew with any certainty.

    Comments that annoyed me

    -Arguing both sides: you can’t flat out say Mormons hate any swearing or hate all nudity, and then in the next segment talk about how much Mormons like South Park and Game of Thrones. The GoT reference was within 30 seconds of saying Mormons will turn off anything sexual. Set aside that I personally don’t see GoT as a Mormon thing, not sure where that got referenced from (Lindsay reference was “someone” asking why Mormon men think GoT is ok? That reference was all Lindsay needed to label Mormons “hypocrites.” A little frustrating hearing that). And anyway, are we arguing that choosing to stay away from swearing or nudity inherently makes people not funny?

    And seriously, you guys are saying that Mormons get offended by the words “boobs” or “butt” at comedy clubs? Which rated G movie doesn’t have the word butt in it?

    – “Mormons suppress their real sense of humor in order to feel comfortable” -female on the podcast. What a statement, she knows me so well.

    – Equating the Halestorm movies to our brand of humor was mostly wrong. There were some funny things in some of those movies, but I don’t know anyone who thinks any of them were great movies. (Typical review of – say – “Church Ball”: “Some funny parts, but mostly a dumb movie. Worth seeing once.”) Yes, plenty of people quote the Singles Ward and occasionally The RM. None of the other movies ever got traction in the culture from my perspective. And Singles Ward/RM never had the type of hold on the culture that mainstream movies had (Tommy Boy, Dumb and Dumber, Happy Gilmore, etc – I’m guessing dropping these movies dates me a little). It’s ridiculous and lazy to hold up one movie productions’ brand of humor as reflecting the culture. Why aren’t those movies being made anymore?

    – Mormons regurgitating jokes (“They’re not funny, they’re not original. They can only recycle. And so when they have to come up with something original… they can’t.”): Setting aside how much I disagree with that panelist statement and focusing on regurgitating/recycling… who doesn’t do that? Parody is a huge part of US culture. And the panelists here… I heard the Disneyland joke again on this podcast that I’ve heard on 10 other podcasts or ME episodes. I think we’re overdoing that joke. Lindsay always (here and in other podcasts) makes that joke about “how bad” she is because she (inserts her mockingly bad thing – drinks diet coke, wears tank tops, votes Democrat, other stuff). That joke is an ex-Mormon staple, always generating polite laughs. Another unoriginal ex-Mormon joke is “I’m so Mormon” and therefore I ____. I just found it frustrating listening to these (to me, non-funny) people mock Mormons for non-original thought. Who really thinks as a group Mormons aren’t funny people and don’t do funny things as a group? Who really thinks the lack of humor is out of step with the rest of the population? Discussion of some Mormon humor is interesting, but the mocking goes way overboard with reality.

    I guess that’s my big issue, that there was very little discussion of the positives in the humor. It came off as unbalanced rantings of people who don’t care for Mormons. If that what it was, so be it I suppose. Lindsay had a throw-away “I like Mormon humor” at the end of the podcast but never followed up on why. So if you listen to this, you come away thinking Mormons are simpletons that laugh at anything that is rated PG or lower, think all PG-13 and above humor is not funny (except for the times that they do think it’s funny), and have no original contributions to comedy. I found the whole thing absurd.

    We all know really, really funny Mormons. It’s easy to find them.

  3. Lanie Reply

    Has anyone here seen Studio C, the squeaky clean version of SNL? It seems to be a pretty good barometer for what Mormons find funny; lots of pop-culture references to Star Wars/Harry Potter/Princess Bride. Several of the skits are well-written and pretty funny, and others are a way for Mormons to make fun of liberal culture (i.e. Whole Foods jokes, and calling Voldemort a “democrat”, etc.), but other times they poke fun at their own super-conservatism.

    • R Nephi Smith Reply

      I was expecting a mention of Studio C, my nephews quote it all the time. Any bits relying on physical humor (another “safe area” like puns) are fairly good, but attempts at satire and social commentary tend to be pretty lame.

  4. Crystal Reply

    I am so out of the loop, I had no idea there were Uchtdorf “hey, sister…” Memes. Very creepy, and “I’m too hie to Holob” totally cracked me up.

  5. David Christiansen Reply

    You mentioned Johnny B’s in the 90’s. See if this looks familiar…http://youtu.be/uF_U6pOAOFE
    I started doing comedy there and then spent the next 15 years on the comedy circuit, eventually working in 48 states. Never did much LDS-centered bits, other than one vague reference that justified why I worked so clean. “My mom is catholic, my dad’s a Mormon…I have more guilt than a Jew.”
    It never made sense to me doing Mormon references 20 years ago,unless I planned on staying in Utah. The rest of the country wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about anyway.
    Comedy served me for a lot of years, and led to other opportunities…all starting from what was before Johnny B’s, actually. It was called The a Backstreet Café, and a place in SLC, called “Cartoons.” Once I even got Christopher Titus to drive down from SLC to Provo to do a show for $50 and a ride. Hey, you wanna see the ever edgy playwright/director, Neil LaBute in a pre-Halestorm comedy? http://youtu.be/QglGi3BH0qY He’s beardless and skinny in that. Many years later, I found that gem of a film we made selling in Brazil with subtitles.

  6. Alan Reply

    The most hilarious part of this episode is how Lindsay says “hilarious”. Cracks me up every time.

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