From a correspondence with a college friend:
Your last question (Why are UU's so humorless? ;) )is the one that caught me. I had not thought so before, but as soon as I read it I recognised it as true. Not that there are no funny or congenial people among them, or that they never laugh, but that this quality of humorlessness is more common among them, and a little more present than average in most of them individually.
I might not have noticed because everyone seems humorless compared to us. The wit and male banter of Wymans getting together is dizzying to those who encounter it for the first time. It is semi-intentional. If you recall those male dorm moments of just guys talking together, winding down, as fondly as I do, you will understand why I wanted to perpetuate it, and raised my sons to participate. The practical joke aspect of male dorm life never did much for me - it was the banter.
It descends from my father, a route salesman who always had a joke ready and was always in community theater. As his own father was not an especial wit or raconteur, I don't know where he got it from. (Though Grampa did like to go off drinking and hunting with his brothers back to Nova Scotia every year, and a picture of Charlie, my great-grandfather, suggests he may have been fun to be around. I'll have to discuss this with my brother.) At any rate my brother and I were banterers from quite early ages, and a younger brother (from my father's second family) has said we should have done a radio show like the guys on Car Talk. We could have, if we could have thought of something of general interest as a foundation as they did.
Even our Romanians, a humorless ethnic group these days, learned to engage in it once they became part of this family. There can only be brief times now when many sons plus a brother or two can all be together, but nothing beats it in all my existence.
So to us, everyone is nice enough, but a bit humorless. They need to be brought out by a Wyman to show their best side.
Anyway, the UU's. There is an earnestness to people who have causes which can make them unable to laugh at themselves. I consider ability to laugh at oneself one of the quickest measures of emotional health. Liberals often seem to lack this. Exceptions would be Bill Clinton (more an anti-conservative than a liberal); Joe Lieberman (now on the outs with the party); James Carville (also not very liberal even though he is rabidly anti-conservative. Hmm.) I hear Bill Richardson is. But Hillary? Obama? Chris Dodd, Robert Byrd, Al Gore, Barbara Boxer? Gad, think how many drinks you'd have to get into those people to make them fun. Liberal humor runs to cleverness and wryness, both of which quickly deteriorate into bitterness. See for example, the genial humor of Gary Trudeau and Garrison Keillor when they are making fun of people they genuinely like, compared to the plain meanness when they don't. The guy that writes the Tom Tomorrow comic strip - he's turned the venom he feels for conservatives onto Obama now. You'd think I'd be prime for finally thinking he's funny. But he's not. I feel sorry for the poor bastard, who is clearly a devoted liberal instead of a partisan, but he's just sneering, not funny.
Contrast this with both Bushes, Cheney, Reagan, McCain, Dole - well able to make fun of themselves. Palin, now that I think of it, isn't quite so comfortable with that. She can do it, and maybe it will get better, but it still has a forced quality. Rush Limbaugh can make fun of himself - Al Franken can't, even though he's a comedian. I don't think I've heard enough of Hannity to know, but I think he takes himself pretty seriously.
Where is the liberal humorist who makes fun of liberals the way O'Rourke does of conservatives? Maybe they can do it, but are tired of getting vilified, as Chris Rock did.
And UU's are great for causes. The Save-The-Whales Church. Well, I guess that one's passe now - they must still be into the usual diversity, gay marriage, green living, and economic justice causes, though. Up here they often post the sermon topic for the week on their signboard. I still recall shaking my head at the Easter Sunday sermon "Guns in America." Give me a frigging break. If the resurrection thing is too weird for you then go with "New Life," or do something with the bunny. Or, if you want to stay away from the whole topic as too Christian, then don't bill yourself as having respect for all the Great Teachers. Robert Fulghum is a notable UU - All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten, or whatever that was. Cute, but it's just a sermon - a hundred-page harangue about how everyone else should live. Even though the title says "I," he doesn't spend much time on how he needs to know this - his point is that he's learned it, and now should you. Just a fundamentalist with better social skills.