The Gift of Humour

An article written by: Lee Sonogan

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“Comedy is tragedy plus time.” – Carol Burnett

Most humans are able to experience humour. Some claim that humour cannot or should not be explained. A humour induced behaviour is considered to be healthy. Studies have shown that it is effective for increasing resilience dealing with distress and effective in undoing negative effects. It is a positive emotion that is used in the broaden-and-build theory of cognitive development. Mainly humour is intended to provoke laughter and create amusement. In the present it has developed into something more while it continues to seem like a gift from the gods!

How did humour begin? Around 335 BCE, the philosopher, Aristotle, in his work Poetics, stated that comedy originated in Phallic processions or festivals of mirth. Meaning rituals/gatherings that included amusement or laughter. Documented comedy from Greece remains today with speculation of past comics creating even more that was lost to time. Aristotle taught that comedy was good and started the foundation of what we call comedy today. Even back then people who performed talked about political satire, sexual innuendo and much more!

Comedy or humour is its own art form. A certain intelligence can be displayed through forms of wit and sarcasm. As with any art form, the acceptance of a particular style or method of humour depends on sociological factors and is different from person to person. Humour can be verbal, visual or physical. The components of humour are being reflective or the imitations of reality. Surprise/misdirection. Contradiction/paradox. And ambiguity. Methods used in comedy are farce, hyperbole, metaphor, pun, reframing, timing and more. The methods to create comedy go in-depth and take time and effort to learn.

The types of comedy/humour:

  • Slapstick comedy
  • Stand-up comedy
  • Comedy play
  • Character comedy
  • Parody
  • Satire
  • Blue humour
  • Cringe comedy
  • Prop comedy
  • Anecdotes
  • Black humour
  • Banter
  • Sitcom
  • Sketch
  • Improvised comedy
  • Much more types and sub-genres of comedy/humour!

In modern times comedians create many different kinds of humour. Many do stand-up while writing new content on other projects. My favourite stand up comedians of all time are Bill Hicks, Joe Rogan, and Russel Brand. Saying that, there is plenty more favourites who create amazing comedy projects such as tv shows, movies, talk shows, literature and various humour content online. Comedy has a mass media that does regular events/festivals and awards. Then many comedians become hosts to many shows and relevant events for their comedy. They are the masters of poking fun at themselves and people want to see that.

Laughing is only sometimes tied to humour. A study of 1200 people listened to a normal conversation in a mall. Only about 10 percent were generated by a joke. Laughter can arise from many other activities other than humour. It is said it is a visual expression of a number of positive of emotional states. Laughter can also be brought on by tickling. Also laughter is used as a signal for being part of a group. Comedy will always sound/be better in front of an audience. Or if you’re in that particular audience. Laughter is proven to be contagious, especially in a group of people.

Is it ok to be offended by comedy? Most humour should not be taken seriously. As the person or people who created it suffered, their delivery of it should be taken with an open perspective. If the joke is used with seriousness and absurdity, it is fine. Using one without the other will take your true meaning and purpose out of the original humour you are attempting to deliver. I say you can be offended at humour only if it is directed to you personally and is continuous to a point where it is agressively unnecessary and domineering distress in someone who does not deserve it.

Theories that attempt to explain humour/comedy:

  • Relief theory
  • Superiority theory
  • Incongruous juxtaposition theory
  • Sexual selection
  • Misattribution theory
  • Humour as a defence mechanism
  • There is more interesting theories about comedy out there!

Just laugh out loud. I need comedy at times. Makes me want to learn how to write it. Comedy is life and tragedy. Comedian, George Carlin once said “comedy doesn’t work unless somebody is getting offended,”. The whole point to comedy/humour is to laugh at life. Laughter is indeed the best medicine because it can do more than amuse you. It can challenge you. It is a mental and emotional investment that is worth it. For humanity it is one of our most greatest aspects. It continues to develop in us as we evolve. I hope I showed what the gift of humour is all about in this article.

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.” – Mel Brooks

PS – I am from Australia so I spell humour with a u.

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