Humor or humorous behaviour is the natural tendency of encounters to elicit humour and provide amusing amusement. The word derives from the Greek mythology of the gods, who were said to be surrounded by a smile when faced with adversity. The first recorded instances of this appear in writings from around 1500 BC, although evidence of funny behaviour goes back much further, probably to the time of the ancient Egyptian gods.
So, what exactly is funny? Humor is a reaction of the human brain, triggered by something that upsets our equilibrium. Some people react more negatively than others to certain events, observations or happenings, but it’s not an innate characteristic. A funny bone in the body is a common example of a physiological response to something that upsets our equilibrium.
There are many categories and sub-categories of humour, including genuine and artificial, topical, popular and public use, personalised, and self-made. It may be surprising that there are some people who claim not to find any type of humour offensive, yet may in fact react very negatively (especially if they are sensitive to any kind of humour). It’s important to understand why people find some forms of humour offensive, and why others do not, and this may be more complicated than meets the eye. Understanding the factors that influence the perception of ‘insanity’ may help us to appreciate why some people react so negatively to so-called ‘irritable humour’. This may also have an important bearing on how we respond to real-life situations that involve real-life consequences (such as a funny tweet by a stranger on Twitter).
People find funny things for many different reasons, including as a means of escape, a quick distraction, a confirmation of what they already know, or even as a direct compliment. Jokes and observations about everyday situations are some of the most common ways we find funny things. Similarly, the use of irony is another popular method of creating humour. Whether the result is an observation about the situation, an ad-hoc joke, or an in-joke between two friends, irony is an extremely powerful force in our culture.
One popular way of finding funny things is through observation of everyday life. When something goes wrong, we can observe how other people react, or laugh at us for making a mistake, or find other ways of slipping in through the cracks. However, just because something goes wrong does not necessarily mean that it is necessarily a bad thing – especially when it can be seen as a sub-plot in a joke or comic opera. Incongruity theory states that if two or more people to see or experience incongruities, it is not necessarily offensive to them; they may simply see the situation as a sign of how the incongruity was found.
Some of the most popular places for watching and finding funny things are comedy clubs, late night TV programs, and the internet. The internet is a great place to find funny videos from all over the world as well as the latest funny books and movies. But perhaps the best place to find funny people and jokes is at your local club or bar. Many clubs have an open mic night where anyone can come and set up a stand and sell their funny stuff. There you will meet many exceptionally funny people. If you do happen to stumble upon a hidden talent, or discover a new favourite funny person, don’t be shy about showing it off – be proud of your sense of humour and stand out from the crowd.