Funny isn't easy. It's also mercurial. One person's funny is another person's "I would very much like to strike you in the face with my umbrella."
As the doors of CES 2012 opened to admit the excited and the hungover, the lengths and depths of funny were tested just a little.
I happened on the booth belonging to Roccat, a German gaming hardware company based in Hamburg.
Adorning its exterior was an ad that read: "ZEE GERMANS ARE COMING. DON'T WORRY. THIS TIME WE'LL PLAY NICE."
In small type at the bottom, it encouraged you to insert "some serious German engineering into your game."
I am sure Roccat's wares are very fine gaming mice and other products. In the interests of naivete and objectivity, though, I asked Roccat's Mike McCoy whether this was a war joke.
He said it was. He said that in gaming there's a lot of shooting. He said that, in fact, half of Roccat's company was made up of marketing people.
Because I have lived in the U.S. for a while, I asked him whether the ad had offended anyone. He admitted that the company had wondered whether someone might not like it, but only one person had voiced a concern as to the potential reaction.
In an interesting fit of serendipity, the booth diagonally opposite Roccat's in the South Hall belongs to BSD Wireless, a company whose mission it is to sell BlackBerry accessories. (Inside information: BlackBerry is still very strong overseas, BSD told me.)
It is staffed entirely by gentlemen wearing yarmulkes.
I asked BSD's Josh Machlis what he thought of Roccat's ad. He wandered over to it, stared at it closely, and came back.
"That's slightly naughty," he said.
Whether it was good naughty or bad naughty, well, you can guess which one he chose.