I was once asked, by a woman in all seriousness, whether I really thought the sound of a rasping fart was funny.
All I could do was howl with laughter.
The reason for this is unclear, even to me. It could have been something to do with hearing this woman, normally a coolheaded individual in the workplace, uttering the less-serious and more-funny F-word; it could have been that I was, for the first time in my life, being forced to address just why I always tended to laugh when I heard the sound of someone breaking wind; or it could just have been the fact that a quantity of air escaping from the anus, and producing the variety of sounds it does, is uproariously funny.
That it IS funny is certain. But why? There are lots of different noises that we encounter daily - a car blowing its horn in the street; a train sounding its whistle, then dashing into a tunnel; an ambulance or a fire engine careering off to an emergency; a whistling kettle; the distant sound of a foghorn; a burp or belch; someone vomiting - although, admittedly, puking also sounds pretty funny! - why, out of all these noises does our instinct tell us to erupt with laughter when we hear the sound of an air biscuit?
Sometimes, it's WHERE you are. There's nothing quite like it when somebody 'lets one go' in a quiet, workmanlike office, especially if there are women present. A popular misconception is that ladies don't fart, but this, of course, is just naïvety on the part of oddly-brought-up males.
An elevator is another good example of a funny place to fart, especially if the elevator is being shared by others. The variety of emotions one can experience after farting loudly in the company of strangers - excitement, shame, embarrassment, exhilaration - is vast. Try it next time you're in a lift!
Even trying to hold your laughter in becomes funny in itself, often far surpassing the comedic value of the flatulence that first caused your funny bone to be tickled.
On public transport, farting often goes unnoticed due to the muffling effect of the vehicle's engine, but if the bus is stuck in a traffic jam, or at a red light, a loud pump can be just the thing to lighten the mood of the other passengers. Trains, too, can be good places to fart loud, but, unlike taking a dump, it's best done whilst the train is in a station.
History, also, tells us farting is funny. In Paris at the end of the 19th Century, the Moulin Rouge was nightly rocked by the antics of Joseph Pujol, if you will, a fartist with a rare talent. He was able to suck air into his rectum, and then 'clear his tanks' by skilful manipulation of his sphincter muscle, often musically to some ditty-of-the-day. The Parisians certainly thought farts were funny! He appeared at the Moulin Rouge all through the 1890s, and later formed his own touring company, farting all around France.
And sometimes you are on the wrong end of a fart. For example, if, whilst on a shopping trip, you have to go to the little boys' room at the Mall, you will often hear your neighbor in the next cubicle rush in, unzip his trousers, and slap his arse down on the seat, followed by a howl as he expels from his anus an evil-smelling gas that you cannot escape. Try containing your laughter at that point!
In answer, then, to that miserable old cow who asked the original question about whether I really thought farts were funny, I'd have to answer in the affirmative. Regardless of how uncouth it's judged to be, I think we all know it's a natural process that all of us go through, that just happens to make us laugh.
Now, blow that out your ass.