The Joke

I recently finished a book by Mr Freud. Pretty cool it was. I’m going to talk about one part of it, the other one deals with the difference between joke, comedy, naive and humour. I think if you google it, you might find out. Or just read the book. Here I’m going to deal with not the more technical aspect of the book, but the emotional aspect.
(Also please excuse me if I make any mistakes in my understanding, I’m not a psychology student.)

So every theory, discovery, invention etc concerns with us as an individual, and us as a part of the society. That’s what it is. We find something, we want to know how it is concerned with an individual and a society. That’s how we measure its relevance. The joke. Why did we start being humorous or come up with comedy or make up jokes? They say a joke is the perfect ice-breaker. Humour makes us sociable. So that’s why we started it, and that’s why we do it. Now how does a joke make us laugh? Because it is funny. How is it funny? What’s funny about it? It’s just another sentence…

Most jokes are mostly universal, if it makes you laugh, it will make 4 other people laugh when you tell it out in a gathering right? So it is universal. Well it is not. There are jokes localised to some geographical region or an age group etc. Only a certain demographic can enjoy it. Know why? Obviously because it must be about something not found in my region/country or some slang I can not understand. Hence, jokes are not universal.

What about humour? You may think your friend has the best sense of humour, while others may not find him funny at all. Or even find the things he says offensive. So humour isn’t universal either (but to this I suppose most people would’ve easily agreed even without an explanation.) Same is with comedy.

Now that we have established that what is funny for one may not always be funny for another, I quote the book itself, “it is a condition for a joke to work that both persons(the one who tells it and the one who listens) should have more or less the same inhibitions”.
This is primarily an axiom for me. The joke is funny when an inhibition is lifted. Using this I can explain the jokes which seem funny to everyone, and also those which only me and my friend can enjoy and you won’t find funny at all.

Some jokes seem funny to all because they tackle universal inhibitions. Like (warning: only mature people should read what follows) jokes on sex, those that talk about the sexual characters of the opposite sex etc. We all have inhibitions about such things, some more than others, so a large group of population enjoys such jokes. Similarly there are many large groups that enjoy jokes of some types. Another example would be jokes about marriage. A huge group(mostly married people) enjoy such jokes. Because married people have to make little adjustments in their day-to-day life, which sometimes may bother them. So when they can’t say it out loud, they make jokes about it and turn that pain of inhibition in pleasure when it is lifted.

Joke/Humour the person who created and a limited number of people, like one or two of his friends, can enjoy. This is based on a more personal and specific inhibition. It might not be a good example but suppose I make some joke with a celebrity as the main thing in the joke. One of my friends laughs, the other doesn’t. How this works – I am very conscious of how my teeth look, and I make a joke about a certain celebrity who has odd teeth. Now he’s a celebrity, maybe more famous for a lot of good things, but I notice his odd teeth. Why my friend could have laughed is because maybe somewhere, deep down, my friend is conscious of his teeth, and the joke now made him also think of the celebrity, which led him to think about his teeth, because as someone who was conscious of his own teeth, he must have noticed the oddity of the celeb’s teeth as well. The other one doesn’t laugh because he doesn’t care about teeth.

The social aspect of it all is that if I laugh at your joke/humour, I would understand you, your inhibitions, because deep down, I probably have the same.

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