A comedian muses on what makes us laugh
|Today, I've been thinking about humour. What makes us laugh, and why!
Laughter is probably unique to human beings; I mean, do we really think all those cows are standing around in paddocks cracking jokes? Yes, I know Gary Larson from The Far Side would disagree. But how does humour actually work?
Why is some random guy slipping on a banana skin so funny?
Or, how about answering the phone: Yo dude, it's THE dude here, wozzzz up? Only to find that it's your boss, asking if you can come in early tomorrow and "finish writing up the Logan Contract?". Hilarious, unless it's happening to you!
Yep, it's definitely amusing to watch someone fall flat on their face, they might even end up with a broken nose, or even better, smashed up teeth. Just as funny would be doing something that puts your job at risk, or reduces your respect in the workplace. Are we simply laughing at the misfortune of others?
I googled Humour and tried to find out the definition of humour. The closest I could get to an answer was: incongruity, which I think is a pretty cool word actually.The problem was, I'd never heard of it, so I went to dictionary.com and looked it up.
Seriously, this was the definition from the "Online Dictionary of the English Language":
n pl -ties
1. something incongruous
2. the state or quality of being incongruous
What was this, a treasure hunt? Okay, I played the game, and looked up incongruous.
1. Lacking in harmony; incompatible
2. Not in keeping with what is proper; inappropriate:
Now, this brought a smile to my face. Not because it was funny, but it meant I didn't have to look up any of those words. I'd heard them before: from my ex-wife.
I figured it meant that for something to be funny, it had to be incongruous. Okay, okay, I'll stop kidding around. A situation, scenario or event had to have an unusual ending, or, as my wife says about me: lacking in harmony, incompatible, and inappropriate.
So, when a guy is walking along the street, the last thing you expect is for him to fall flat on his face; you don't answer the phone trying to be funny, only to find your very serious boss is on the other end of the line.
I guess that makes life itself funny; because it never seems to turn out the way we expect.