Sunday, October 09, 2005
WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT?
It’s hard to tell what’s funny, one person’s hilarious is wildly offensive to someone else. I thought this was funny in a wryly human way, I told a friend and he didn’t think it funny at all.
How about this one, is it funny? Only to liberals, but have you noticed that all the really funny stuff is on the lefty side, like this, andthis, and how about this? The Onion is always funny, this is Oprah’s latest giveaway and look at how funny Tom Cruise has become.
Believe it or not, there is a theory of humour, what people find funny is broken into discrete parts and studied academically in a field called Humour Studies. The subject is earnestly discussed each year at the International Summer School on Humour and Laughter, this year held ironically at the University of Tübingen in that barrel of mirth called Germany.
According to this, we laugh to signal that danger has passed and to cement bonds between members. Laughter is a tension reliever, it’s when we’re allowed to say the unsayable about life and get away with it, because it’s supposed to be a joke. Jokes are a way for people to accept death and the general unsatisfactoriness of the world says Appletree Rodden of the University of Tübingen, and with a name like that he has no choice but to be funny.
There’s also the superiority theory which states that people laugh to assert they are on a level or higher than their peers. Maybe it’s a way to remind us that beneath the veneer of civilisation we’re not much more than animals, hence the preponderance of jokes about farts, body parts, excrement and unnatural sexual practices.
I think everyone can agree that cats are always funny. Whether you dance with them or lurk in the bathroom with a camera to catch them sleeping in the sink, what makes these sites funny is that someone took the trouble to bring them into existence for no good reason but to make other people laugh.
Last word on humour to the hilarious Appletree Rodden, “humour is one way of dealing with the fact that humans are excrement-producing poets and imperfect lovers”