We have written previously about a special type of fart, one which features a ‘tail’ – an extra accent sound at the end of the primary sound. Our feeling is that this particular arrangement (hereinafter a ‘tailed fart’) evokes a more humorous response than a standard, single-sound fart. While others have attempted to explore the humour of farts more generally, members of the College have been musing about what causes such a strong reaction to this type of fart in particular, and our speculations are summarized below.
Before diving into the material, let’s consider a few high-quality examples of humorous tailed farts created with our very own Fart Maker:
These farts all share a few qualities:
- The primary fart hovers around the mid range & lasts about 2.5 seconds
- The tail arrives a short while after the primary fart
- The tail changes pitch and/or volume and/or duration as compared to the primary fart
One of our first ideas was to look for other similar ‘arrangements’ of sound. Perhaps something about this particular construction was funny (or at least remarkable or memorable) regardless of content or context. A number of possibilities occurred to us, such as jokes with one-word plot-twisting punchlines (an example of a paraprosdokian), peekaboo, shave and a haircut, or ba dum tss (alternately ba dum ching or ba dum tish – all forms of a 3-part rimshot used in standup comedy). One of our more interesting ideas involved looking at famous advertising slogans that fit the desired form, and have survived in the public consciousness over time. Let’s consider a few well-known examples:
- Can you hear me now? Good. (Verizon)
- They’re … Great! (Frosted Flakes)
- Uh oh … Spaghettio’s. (Spaghettio’s)
These three clips follow the basic template of the tailed fart…mid-range and mid-duration set-up, followed by a brief (one-word of preferably – though not exclusively – one syllable) sting or stab at the end. They are certainly memorable, promote smiling (possibly due to nostalgia), but fall a tad short of being laugh-out-loud funny.
Here are more examples we came across, but note the main difference from the samples above (and yes, the last two clips are the same…a lucky twofer, though the original form of ‘Thanks … I needed that’ is much funnier):
- Yeah … that’s the ticket. (John Lovitz, SNL)
- By … Mennen. (Mennen)
- Thanks … I needed that. (Mennen)
Here we have inverted the format. The single-word / single-syllable tail comes first, followed by the mid-range and longer main part. These are still memorable and about as humorous as the other examples, however, it did get us thinking about whether inverting tailed farts would make them more or less funny. Consider the following examples:
In the opinion of this author, these farts are quite humorous. This is a somewhat surprising result and may merit further study. Part of the challenge is that all farts are funny to people who find farts funny (which is, of course, everyone), but there are subtle differences and variations which are difficult to describe with precision. While our goal here at the College is not to develop a complete fart taxonomy (we’ll let others make their attempt) we are very much interested in what makes farts funny (note related posts here & here), in particular when at least some of the variables of interest are under human control. Keep an eye on the site for further developments in this area.