Humour is so underrated. It is, in a way, like poetry, and sometimes I think that it is even a type of poetry. What poetry does for us when we read it, is it calls to attention something that is beneath the surface of our minds, validating it in a beautiful or ironic light. Often our simple recognition of the subject matter creates 60% of the beauty already. (I picked 60% as a slightly random example. I really meant a large percentage, but I thought it would sound better if I made it seem more specific.)
Humour has a similar function. What makes a lot of humour humour is the fact that we can relate to it, like seeing someone in a TV series doing something stupid that we can imagine ourselves doing. Usually the funny thing is something that isn’t called to attention a lot in our everyday lives. That’s why we get that low-key eureka-esque feeling when we see it pointed out. It feels like a bit of a relief to see it.
Like poetry, humour validates us.
The difference is that humour usually does it without seriousness. Humour is happy. Happy and relatable. And, like poetry, it’s intelligent. It’s incisive. That’s what makes it one of the greatest therapies. I think that if you’re feeling lonely, hearing a joke can completely erase your loneliness for a few seconds – or a few minutes. Or, if you’re really lucky, like an hour or something.
I think it’s really interesting that everybody has a different sense of humour. I can picture each of my friends in turn and think of the kind of thing that would make that individual laugh. It’s always very hard to pin-point. I know roughly what their sense of humour is, but I don’t know what to call it.
I would say that personally, the jokes I find the funniest would fit into the category of, Goofy, Silly or Relatable. I also like slapstick comedy. While I do find Gallows Humour funny – maybe even funnier than most people find it -, I don’t think I find it funny enough in proportion to other things I find funny to say that I have a Dark or Warped sense of humour. I think that Goofy is just so wide-ranging that it overlaps with Warped. Shut up; these are real terms.
Sarcasm has never come naturally to me (I actually think sarcasm is cynical and overused) and while I find “Witty” humour hilarious coming from other people, I’m not intelligent enough to come up with my own witty jokes. Maybe I can work on it.
Having a goofy sense of humour is why I love films and series like Wayne’s World (and Wayne’s World 2, which is even better), Brooklyn 99 and Yes Man.
I wonder why people have the sense of humour they have. Is your sense of humour the product of your experiences, or something you’re born with? How much is it linked with your other personality traits? I’d love to say that sarcasm is linked to jaded cynicism and boringness, but I think that would just be me having a go at sarcastic people. You know, I don’t actually hate sarcasm; I just think it’s overused. And also, maybe I wish I could get away with being sarcastic more…
Because I think the question of how humour and personality intertwine is so intriguing, I’ve decided to use some of my friends as examples, and explore their respective types of humour and personalities.
But first of all, I’ll look into my own.
LOL, I can see all scientists and researchers out there shaking their heads in their hands; this is seriously the most subjective attempt at research anyone has ever done.
My sense of humour: Goofy, Silly, Slapstick
My personality: Serious; Always analysing things; Often feeling overlooked
Obviously those are just three traits of my personality. I picked them because I feel like they play the biggest part in my day-to-day self-image. Wow, Jamila; you’re not even going pretend to get a third party to pick them?
I can’t claim to see an immediate relationship between the contents of the first and second category. In fact, they seem to contain opposite traits. The most obvious conclusion to draw from them is that perhaps the reason I like goofy humour is because I am serious in my everyday life, but that just seems a bit glib. More importantly, I don’t know enough people for whom the same is true to validate that conclusion. Lastly, many people will say I’m the worst person to pick my own traits, let alone to try to analyse them. Ooh, I’ve thought of another one (I know I said lastly; shut up): your three defining characteristics aren’t necessarily going to be the ones that bear correlation to your sense of humour. Okay, I’m done.
If I think about it off the top of my head, I suppose I find goofy humour funny because it’s a relief to know that other people have thoughts that are as silly or improbable as my own. I find slapstick humour funny because of the “thank-god-that-wasn’t-me” factor – and the fact that I automatically spend a lot of my day trying not to fall over, so seeing someone else actually fall over (or do something more ridiculous) is a relief.
Now, how can I link that to the three traits I listed about my personality? To be honest, the main connection I see is that thinking a lot means that I have some pretty improbable thoughts, so seeing those kinds of thoughts in others, which happens in Goofy humour, is a relief.
I’m going to assign my friends code names so I don’t risk offending them if they see this blog post.
I think that my friend Snafflecakes has a similar sense of humour to me. Snafflecakes’ type of humour: Goofy, Silly, British
(On second thoughts, code names might be worse.)
Snafflecakes’ personality: Serious; Interested; Kind; Open-minded
A lot of British humour is funny because of how far it takes things, and because of the mock-seriousness it deals with. I think British people like British humour because of that stereotypical “stiff upper lip” and because of the irony it contains. I can’t see any correlation between Snafflecakes’ British sense of humour and their personality. All I can think of is that Snafflecakes has been raised by people who like that sense of humour, so Snafflecakes has been exposed to it from an early age, and may possess genes that predispose them to it (though that seems improbable). Snafflecakes probably likes Goofy humour for the same reason I do.
My other friend, Grendygome, has a more meme-ish sense of humour that I don’t get most of the time. Grendygome’s type of humour: Memes; Randomness; Tropes in a certain genre of music; Running jokes in a certain genre of music
Grendygome’s personality: passion for certain genre of music; confidence; eagerness
I think Grendygome finds jokes about their favourite genre of music funny because such jokes have a feeling of solidarity. Each subculture has its own stereotypes, tropes and running jokes. These develop naturally out of being outside of the mainstream. They help to cement the subculture.
My friend Zummygoo’s sense of humour: Witty, Observational, Nice
Zummygoo’s personality: Extremely intelligent; Honest; Kind
Zummygoo jokes the most frequently out of all my friends. I think it’s difficult for them not to be witty. Because they’re intelligent, they see a lot of patterns in things, and I think pointing out these patterns has become a habit. When I say Zummygoo can have a ‘nice’ sense of humour, I mean that they seem to be able to jokingly elevate other people’s egos in a totally non-weird (nice) way. It’s difficult to do, and even more difficult to explain. They also have the ability to joke about a shared situation, which makes the situation feel even more shared.
Kobbymob’s personality: Understanding, Loving, Obsessive, Opinionated
Kobbymob’s sense of humour: Hard to say; Theoretically possible scenarios that exaggerate the status of current situations; Randomness
Kobbymob’s jokes have mainly been about Kobbymob and myself in improbable situations. They have elements of truth based on my own attitudes and Kobbymob’s, but they take those attitudes further, to a ridiculous extent. They may be seen as slightly mocking, but in the best of ways. To be honest, I can’t see a way to link Kobbymob’s sense of humour to Kobbymob’s personality. Actually, now that I think about it, Kobbymob is a very affectionate person, and that affection comes across in their slightly teasing sense of humour.
I am not going to bore you by going through ALL my friends (because I have so many, hahaha) and their personalities. From what I’ve explored, I feel like there is some correlation between sense of humour and other personality traits, but not enough to create any rules. Perhaps, though, if I go through more of my friends, I will find more reliable patterns, so it’s hard to say at this stage. If you would like me to, I can do another post going into this in more detail. Haha, you’re thinking, ‘Noooo, Jamila; spare me!’ Seriously, if you want me to, say below, and I will.
Someone I knew once posited a theory that what we find funny developed out of what we weren’t allowed to talk about as children. I personally wasn’t allowed to talk about sex or drugs, and I wasn’t allowed to swear. Talking about sex and drugs can be funny to me now, as can swearing. So far the theory holds up. But there’s no proof of causation. I’m sure if I tried, I could think of other things I wasn’t allowed to talk about that I don’t find funny. I reckon the theory could have some merit, but it isn’t an absolute rule.
One thing I’ve observed is that a key factor in humour seems to be relief.
Relief, to me, is one of the main components of gallows humour. Death and such matters are taboo because they scare us. And because they’re taboo, those times we do actually want to make a joke about them, we feel like we can’t. Seeing someone else make a joke about them is a relief. It also makes death and such seem less intimidating.
But there’s something else that humour – in general – makes less intimidating. Life. That is why humour important. I think meeting funny people is a blessing, beccause they give us many of those eureka-esque moments. But don’t leave all of it up to other people 😉 Remember that you have the power in yourself to be funny any time you wish.