In boxing, the taller fighter always has the advantage because punches that are thrown downward hit harder. The shorter fighter, on the other hand, is always fighting two fights: one against his opponent, and another against the heavy weight champion of the universe, gravity, which is undefeated, with a record of infinite wins, zero losses, and one draw against Jesus…
In war, the side that occupies the higher ground has the upper hand because not only are they aided by gravity, which makes their position easy to defend, the elevation allows them to see farther in every direction and detect incoming attacks. This fact hasn’t changed because of airplanes, drones, and satellites, which soar high above the ground through the sky, because satellites, drones, and airplanes are the new high ground, even though the high ground is no longer on the ground.
The same principle applies in comedy too, because comedians always seek out the moral high ground, from where they view the bustling masses of mankind, look down on their weaknesses, and send their punch lines whistling downward at the butt of their jokes.
However, there are important differences between boxing and war on the one hand, and comedy on the other. For one thing, the high ground in comedy is even higher than the sky, since the comedic high ground exists in the metaphysical sphere of morals.
Even more importantly, unlike both boxing and war, it’s not at all that it’s simply more advantageous or more effective when punch lines in comedy are flung downward from the moral high ground above, but rather that they can only be thrown in a downward direction, and never upward. In this, comedy is like basketball in which you score a point only when the ball goes through the hoop from above and never from below.
For example, a dwarf can’t possibly tease a giant about his height, but a giant can tease a dwarf on his. A very ugly man can’t tease a handsome man on his looks, but the handsome man can tease the ugly man on his. A man with a full head of hair can tease Julius Caesar about being bald, but Julius Caesar can’t tease the man with a full head of hair on his having hair, etc.
Laughter, like water, always flows downward.
Making fun of someone for something in which you are worse than them, is like trying to spit on them while you’re upwind from where they stand. Not only are you going to have your own spit return and hit you in one eye, but also the other person’s especially fast downwind-spit in the other eye. As Juvenal says, “Let the straight-legged man laugh at the club-footed…but who can endure the Gracchi railing at sedition?” (Satire 2)
But each individual human being, like a landscape filled with mountains, valleys, and plains, is a mix of high and low, which makes them vulnerable at some points and inaccessible at others. Thus a giant who is also bald can make fun of a dwarf with a full head of hair on his tiny stature, but the dwarf, ironically, is able to look down on the tall man’s shiny bald head and point the finger of derision.
Because the moral high ground in comedy is neither on the ground, nor in the air, but in the abstract metaphysical sphere, it’s not always immediately clear who occupies it. Since people often treat concepts and empty words as if they were real things, they sometimes claim to possess virtues which they do not, or pretend their deficiency is really a virtue.
A man standing on an anthill can’t possibly claim the high ground against a man so high above him on a tower that he himself looks as big as an ant. A boxer with short arms is not able to lie and say his arms are longer than his opponent’s when the measuring tape speaks against him. But a person who is morally inferior, ugly, or bad in some way can claim otherwise, and there are always plenty of people who are similarly bad, ugly, or morally inferior who will agree, either out of spite or self-delusion.
A recent example of such empty words which have been repeated and given assent by many is the idea that comedy, in the language of boxing, should never “punch down” at those below, but only ever “punch up” at those above them. Like most vulgar ideas, I became aware of this the way a person becomes aware of a fart in a loud, crowded room, that is, all of a sudden when it had already generally diffused and not knowing who was responsible.
Who was it who was trying to make water fall up a waterfall?
Who was it who was spitting upwind?
Who was it who had thrown a basketball up through the hoop and thought they had scored three points?
[Go to Page 2 to find out who farted this idea]