Not to brag, but I happen to have a job that allows me to consider the differences between "funny" and "silly" more often and more deeply than most adults. "Funny" is built on inherent dramatic conflicts and character traits and serves other structural moorings which provide the potential for more nuanced, grounded humor. "Silly" just wants to get to the fun part as quickly as possible. Silly can stand alone more confidently than funny, which prefers the comfort of social settings.
If one is cranking out a daily comic strip, it's much smarter approach to aim for "funny" over "silly" when building the characters and their world. Silly is ephemeral and hard to maintain without collapsing into desperation for constant wackiness, and works much better with a little element of surprise. Funny is built to last, and serves double duty by helping to define characters through their immediate reactions to a funny situation as well as give the strip a narrative inertia as their attempts to resolve the situation stretch out into story arcs.
But! But, delivered tactically and with enough novelty, silly's no slouch, and its spontaneity provides a measure of delight that's much harder to achieve than it seems. There's a real discipline to knowing both how to be properly silly, as well as when.
Finding a horse in the shower: silly.
Ongoing effort to encourage horse to switch to baths: funny.
Folks with taste already know that Monty has been a consistently funny strip for nearly two decades (I'm counting its previous incarnation as "Robotman," since the cast is largely the same, and including it allows me to say "for nearly two decades"). In addition to being funny, Monty demonstrates an equally reliable wealth of silliness on a regular basis. Monty creator Jim Meddick is a master of the kind of silliness that makes one emit that high-pitched peal of laughter that can really make strangers take notice and judge one harshly for their outburst. It's a special sort of talent that compels one to write potentially alienating blog posts about comedy theory, and then ladle on a meta layer near the end to ensure the crowd is won back at the last minute.
If I posted a bunch of funny "Monty" strips, we'd be here all day, so in an effort to justify this post through specificity, today we're going to double-down on some of the silliest Sundays in the archives. Because I'm also a big fan of Meddick's expert line work, and I suspect a number of people who would read this far down in a post like this would like to see such a thing, here's a bunch of color-free Monty Sundays, so you can get an idea of how your dog sees them. (Humor is also rooted in empathy, y'know.)
And hey, Monty's great every day of the week, but you don't have to take my word for it-- click here and see for yourself!