Humour – Tickling Our Collective Funny Bones
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”.~Groucho Marx.
Why do we laugh, what do we laugh at and why do people laugh at different things.
Science first, laughter triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthens our immune system, boosts energy, diminish pain, and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. Simply put, laughter is good for us.
Humour and laughter are a big part of social interaction, people who make us laugh are more attractive and enjoyable to spend time with. Laughing creates a bond and a connection with others. It strengthens relationships, enhances teamwork and helps to defuse conflict.
Sigmund Freud outlined a theory that humour and the use of jokes is a conscious nod to the subconscious. Taboo subjects become more socially acceptable if delivered as a joke. Parapaxes or Freudian Slips, another form of unconscious leakage, although at times embarrassing, can also be incredibly funny.
Why do people laugh at different things. As we age, our response to humour evolves. Children and teens often find toilet humour and slapstick hilarious, while as adults we may still enjoy this type of humour, experience opens us up to more adult humour. Intellect is as important aspect of understanding jokes and their nuances and this develops as we grow and learn.
Society and community plays a big part in what we laugh at. The type of humour we appreciate is often the same as our parents. The great Tommy Cooper was our families great favourite as was Fawlty Towers, Monty Python and The Goons and to this day I still love all of them. Of course personality and personal tastes are big factor.
Another theory is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as we strive for self actualization, our humour develops and matures. One of Maslow’s 15 characteristics is an unusual sense of humour. As we move through the stages toward self actualization our sense of humour embodies our emotional and psychological attainment. Fascinating stuff, I must read more.
I probably laugh at pretty well anything, however I’m not a fan of crude and offensive misogynistic type humour. I don’t find it at all clever. But I do love the absurd, the ridiculous, black humour, gallows humour, the humour we find in the darkest places of our minds and the darkest times of our lives. The way I see it, if you can find something to laugh when times are dark and lonely, then there’ll always be hope and a reason to get up in the morning.
Some of the best comedy series of all time MASH, Frazier, Modern Family and Fawlty Towers to name a few, all share a magnifying glass look at the absurdity of life. And for most part it’s real, we can relate to it. I don’t know about you, but my family are definitely more Modern Family than The Waltons. Whether it’s spiritual or emotional strength in times of crisis (the Korean War in Mash), arrogance and pride, family life or even marriage, life is funny and it’s best to have a sense of humour for the journey. As Daphne says to Niles, “You’d eat a worm if I gave a french name”.
So favourite comedians, I’m a bit of a Marxist-Groucho not Karl. What am I saying, I’m a lot of a Marxist, the funniest man of all, who can forget, the mirror scene or Why a Duck. Who else likes Groucho, hands up. Love me a bit of Duck Soup, an anarchical, maniacal feast. His timing perfection, his sense of the ridiculous and to my mind he’s a great accidental philosopher.
For me humour has been a god send, a safety valve and an indicator that I’ve come through my dark tunnel. I find myself more able to laugh and enjoy the company of wonderful people. Laughter got me through many a day and got me up in the morning.
Laughter has certainly been the best medicine for me.