My husband and I watched an old episode of “Seinfeld,” one with comedy highlights from the many years the series ran.
“This is hilarious stuff. Every little bit is funny,” I said.
“That’s because you’ve already seen the episodes and know the characters,” Paul answered. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t make sense.”
I was about to do what I usually do when challenged – argue – but he was correct. Comedy, much like calculus or Shakespeare, is difficult to understand or appreciate unless you start at the beginning. In other words, you need the Seinfeld 101 course before you can progress to your PhD in HaHa.
While our tastes change, I bet we haven’t altered much over the eons, at least in the way we enjoy laughter and entertainment.
Stop and think about our early ancestors, those cave dwellers who lived before the invention of the wheel. What do we really know about them? We can only guess what made them laugh out loud, or hoot and holler with chimp-like shrieks. For all we know, they watched stand-up comedians like we do at Yuk Yuks today.
I’d love to be a primordial fly on the cave wall when the first act took place at a rock stage near you: “Thank you, thank you very much. So where y’all from? That crater by the lava flow? I didn’t think any vertebrates still lived there [nervous giggling, hairy foot shuffling] . . . I just flew in from the tar pits and are my knuckles ever tired!”
Now comes the sound of applause or grunts of satisfaction. Hard to tell whether the register is delight or anger, with those prominent jaws and swept-back foreheads.
From the back, a heckler growls something off-color.
“What’s that, your knuckles don’t drag? Sheesh, there’s a Neanderthal in every cave!” More applause and some supportive rock throwing ensues.
The show ends on familiar note: “You’ve been a great crowd, thanks for coming to Kruk Kruks. Be good to your servers – no hair pulling. And look out for those sabre-tooth tigers on your way home.”
Audience members pull on their animal hides and claim their clubs at the door. The Comedy Cave quickly empties.
Then, everyone makes a quick (tar) pit stop before queuing up for the drag-through window of the nearest Golden Arches. A Big Mammoth, pterodactyl nuggets, name your poison. Whatever gets you through the Paleolithic night.
With six million years of evolution under our gene pool belt there’s an undeniable amount of variation, but those hominid similarities do exist. We had “Seinfeld,” they had “Trog.”
I’ll never gaze into a campfire the same way again. And I’ll never take my handy canister of Wet Ones for granted, thanks to our ancestors who were there at the dawn of intelligence.
To all of you cave comedians, you rock!
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