Fear of Toast


Fear of Toast; not a phrase you hear every day and I haven’t a clue as to what the Latin type name for the phobia would be. Why talk about it? Well it is a phrase I used at random in a training course recently – the context is not very important suffice it to say I was guessing what a drawing represented in terms of Freudian ‘fears’ and thought the comment ‘Fear of Toast’ might raise a giggle. On that occasion I was successful.

The phrase stuck with me and it is not very common on the web so I thought I would blog from it. I have no idea where this is going to go so hold on; it may get bumpy!

Apologies

First off, anyone who is actually afraid of toast has my sympathy. What do you put underneath your eggs? What do you spread your marmalade on (and not Marmite – see here). I am going to write this from the point of view that the phrase is amusing and try and discuss why. Please leave the room if you are at all intimidated by bread in any of its forms.

Still here? Right I’ll continue…

Humour

What makes something funny? I have heard several theories over the years and I relate some below:

  1. We are actually enjoying someone else suffering. This is the pratfall, standing on a rake, banana skin kind of humour
  2. Something clever in the construction. Here we have puns, jokes involving playing on words / meanings
  3. Incongruity. Here we are led in one direction and then right at the end we are shown the situation from a totally different perspective
  4. Well timed witticism. Here is the comment that fits a situation and is not funny except in its context. This is the ad lib tool of the stand up comedian.

Context and Timing

Humour depends  a lot on when / where. Apart from (4) above we normally have a contract with the joke teller; we expect to be entertained and to enjoy a punch line. Random jokes will not always work. Off the top of my head here are some examples of each of the above:
  1. Just sit through ‘You’ve been framed’
  2. Anyone who complains about auto-correct is a fudging can’t. This is an actual tweet I read today. The joke all happens in the reader’s head. (Thanks to @marsdaddy)
  3. A man walks into a bar. “Ouch!” he says. This could also work as an example of (2)
  4. Fear of Toast. See, not funny here was it!
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About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Audio Drama editor for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

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