Restocking My Pedantry

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November 15, 2013 by T. Gregory Argall

I’ve commented on this before and I will probably comment on it again, but today I’m commenting now.

A linguistic habit I’ve noticed in many people, when they find something amusing, is to say, “That’s too funny.”
I don’t understand quite what they mean by that. Is it comparable to saying that music is too loud? That light is too bright? That car is too small? You are too naked?
(These are just random examples; they have rarely, if ever, actually been said to me.)

When I hear (or more often see in an email or Facebook comment) the phrase, “That’s too funny,” I imagine it as being an exerpt lifted, sans context, from a conversation.

Person A: {something humourous}

Person B: “Hahaha, oh my, that was too funny.”

Person A: “Oh. I’m sorry. I’ve exceeded your tolerance for funny?”

Person B: “Sadly, yes.”

Person A: “Oh, dear.”

Person B: “You were doing fine at first. ‘Funny… funny… keep going, funny… then suddenly, whoa, hold on. Dial back the funny there, Chuckles. That’s just too much.’ See what I mean?”

Person A: “I crossed the funny threshold?”

Person B: “No, the funny threshold is a decorative archway at a combination comedy club and wedding chapel in Reno, Nevada. Tourists love it. But that’s not the point. The point is you were too funny. You need to be just funny enough and then hold it there. There’s needs to be balance.”

Person A: “Ah. Would it help if I balanced the funny by showing autopsy photos at the same time?”

Person B: “Um. No. You’d have to be waaay too funny for that to work.”

Or something like that.
Anyway, if you find something funny, just say that it’s funny. Don’t imply that it is funnier that you are willing to put up with.
That just confuses things.
Yes, I understand your defence of, “That’s not what I meant,” but if that’s not what you meant, then why are those the words you used?


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