in American English) is a form of entertainment
and a form of human communication, intended to make people laugh and feel happy. The origins of the word are in the humoral medicine
of the ancient Greeks, the word meaning fluid.
There are different types of humour which appeal to different sectors of humanity - for instance, slapstick
is particularly popular with young children, while satire
tends to be more popular with the older and better-educated. Humour is usually localized and does not easily transfer from one culture to another. This happens because humour is often context sensitive and someone not understanding the context will usually not understand the humour. Various techniques are used to deliver humour:
there are many more
- Adages, often in the form of parody "lawss" of nature
- Practical joke: deliberately luring someone into a humourous position and then laughing at their expense
- Silly acts inappropriate for the situation or age of person
- Fake stern manner that is inappropriate in a comic setting
- Ridiculous gestures and movements
- Deliberate ambiguity and confusion with reality (such as in Andy Kaufman's humour)
- Play of words such as oxymorons, puns etc.
- Unexpected outcome, such as a witty punchline.
- Wit, as in many one-liners.
- Humorous "Lawss" such as Murphy's law
- Self inflicted embarrassing situation, e.g. losing one's swimming trunks after a dive.
- Comic sounds or inherently funny words with certain sounds that make them amusing in a particular language
- Self-degradation (such as in Rodney Dangerfield's humor)
- Faking stupidity
- Pointing out real stupidity (such as the Darwin Awards)
- Stereotyping (such as blonde jokes, lawyer jokes, racial jokes etc.)
- Inflicting pain (such as kick in the groin or in the movie "Home Alone", etc)
It has been claimed that humour cannot be explained. However, attempts can be made, such as this one:
Perhaps the essence of humour is the presentation of something familar to a person, so they think they know the natural follow-on thought or conclusion, then providing a twist through presentation of the opposite of what was expected, or else the natural result of interpreting the original situation in a different, less common, way. For example:
A man speaks to his doctor after an operation. He says, "Doc, now that the surgery is done, will I be able to play the piano?" The doctor replies "Of course!" The man says "Good, because I couldn't before!"
Studies of humour:
There also exist linguistic and psycholinguistic studies or humour, irony
, parody and pretense. Some prominent theoreticians of this field are:
- Raymond Gibbs
- Herbert Clark
- Salvatore Attardo
Users of some psychoactive drugs tend to find humour in many more situations and events than one normally would.
One notable trait of Australians, inherited from the British, is the use of deadpan humor, in which the joker will make an outrageous or ridiculous statement without explicitly indicating they are joking. Americans visiting Australia have gained themselves a reputation for gullibility and a lack of a sense of humor by not recognising that tales of kangaroos hopping across the Sydney Harbour Bridge are examples of this propensity.
- Mobbs, D., Greicius, M.D., Abdel-Azim, E., Menon, V. & Reiss, A. L. Humor modulates the mesolimbic reward centers. Neuron, 40, 1041 - 1048, (2003).