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Hit 'Send' And the World Laughs With You

"The new technology has improved the quality of the images," he said, "but the themes are the same -- idiotic bosses, impotence, domineering women, etc., etc."

Like all humor, Internet humor is not always actually, you know, funny. Many Internet jokes are nasty or sexist or vulgar or childish or bigoted or obnoxious or obscene. The rest are no good at all.

Good, bad or just plain ugly, this stuff keeps on coming -- whether you want it or not. The sheer volume is a tribute to the bizarre creativity -- if not the good taste -- of the human animal.

Ah, humanity! A bunch of primates with opposable thumbs and extremely efficient cerebral cortexes invent the Internet and what do the rest of the primates do? They use this epochal breakthrough in communications technology to send out dirty pictures or low humor or, better yet, dirty pictures with low humor.

The spirit of Internet humor is the same spirit that inspired that ancient anonymous bard to take out a pen and write on the outhouse wall: Here I sit, broken-hearted . . . E-mailed humor is the graffiti on the modern-day latrine that is the Internet.

Of course, the humor has evolved as computer technology improved. At first, most Internet humor was simply jokes typed out: blonde jokes, lawyer jokes, redneck jokes, cat jokes, ethnic jokes and tired, ancient jokes about over-sexed old wives and their under-sexed old husbands.

But as it became easier to send images by e-mail, visual gags and strange photos appeared: The redneck wedding picture with the pregnant bride with the cigarette and the toothless groom in the sleeveless tux. The parodies of the new state quarters: "Nevada -- Warning: The chlamydia you got in Vegas will not actually 'stay in Vegas.' " The series of goofy homemade mailboxes. The series of "only in . . . " pictures poking fun at certain locales. The photo of an enormous fat guy wearing a T-shirt that says, "I Beat Anorexia."

Now, the advent of computers that can download video quickly has led to Internet jokes that are elaborate mini-movies:

The video of the obnoxious kid throwing a temper tantrum in a supermarket that ends with the sage advice: "Use condoms."

Or the mock commercial with a housewife touting the wonders of a certain home-improvement catalogue -- which she slowly rolls into a club and uses to whack her lazy husband, who's napping on the couch.

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