By: Chelsea Ratterman, Assistant Editor
Studying the science behind sight gags
Sight Gags are defined as anything that conveys humor by sight rather than words. Lately, there has been a surplus of them. But this is not anything new. One of the first recorded sight gags was something called pole-sitting. The world record, however, was set sometime between 386 and 459 AD, by St. Simeon Stylite when he sat on the top of a pillar near Aleppo, in Syria. He sat there for 37 years, in order to be nearer to God. It was rebooted in the early 20th century, when a friend of stunt actor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly dared him to sit on top of a flagpole. This sit lasted 13 hours and 13 minutes.
There has been a virtual frenzy of new sight gags created. The one that spawned this new obsession is called “planking”. The point of planking is to lie face down, completely expressionless with your hands at your side, and be as rigid as possible, like a plank. The more dangerous the location of the plank, the better. Unfortunately there have been a few deaths associated with planking, such as the case of Anton Beale, who fell off a 7 story balcony while attempting to plank the 2 inch railing. Keep in mind that extreme planking is roughly as hazardous as the original sight gag, flagpole sitting.
Among the animal-inspired gags we have Owling and Batting. Owling is the sport of crouching in a strange location in an owl like posture; and of course it must be shared via some sort of social network. Batting involves hanging upside down with two options for your arms. Either place them in your pockets or on your hips to create wings, or over your chest to look like a sleeping bat. This gag has been seen as far as Afghanistan where troops have posted pictures of their batting exercises. These were in response to planking, something people would call a parody of the original gag.
The list goes on. The next three biggest gags are coning, leisure divingand horse-manning. Coning is a rather…messy gag. Coning is the act of grabbing a cone of ice cream, not by the cone, but by the ice cream, causing rather bewildered looks of the person handing it to you.
In contrast, leisure diving is good, clean fun. This gag involves diving into a pool, while looking as casual as possible in mid-air. This has provided some rather riotous pictures on the Internet, such as one where the subject has jumped in wearing a robe and holding a coffee mug.
Last but not least we have horse manning. This is named in honor of the Headless Horseman from Sleepy Hollow, who was always searching for his head. This gag is performed by two people where one lies on their back, in such as a position so that their head is not visible. The other person sits or lies where the only thing visible is their head, thus creating a disembodied head illusion.
These all sound potentially entertaining. Have you tried any?