Social Question

Sneki95's avatar

Is humour purely subjective or are there "rules" about what's funny and what isn't?

Asked by Sneki95 (6997points) November 19th, 2016

Are there “jokes” that are never funny? Subject that should never be joked about?
Or is it about what the listener and the author find funny due to their own beliefs and opinions?

What would make something funny?

Is there a formula to make a good joke? Should there be a “set of rules” that would define what is funny and what isn’t?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

ucme's avatar

Best way to answer this & reasonably topical is to say Trump bagging the presidency is fucking hilarious to me, large swathes of Fluther meanwhile are shitting their pants & running around like headless chickens. Humour, subjective? Hmmm…

Cruiser's avatar

If it makes you giggle, then it is golden regardless what anyone else thinks.

Sneki95's avatar

@ucme Hmmm…....accurate description of Fluther.

@Cruiser Even if I laugh at jokes about Holocaust, or make sexists jokes or laugh at babies being thrown at the wall?
It may be funny to me, but what if I come to a room full of Jewish women who had a miscarriage and try to be funny?
Is it really funny just because it makes me giggle?

Mariah's avatar

It is subjective. There certainly are people who will laugh at racist jokes. I personally find them unfunny and think they should be laid to rest, but I can’t deny that there are still people who laugh at them, which unequivocally means that humor is suggestive. I understand I don’t get to decide what kinds of jokes get told, but I can leave the club or even protest the comedian if I dont like where it’s going. He has the right to tell his racist jokes and I have the right to complain and the club has the right to kick either of us out if they don’t like our behavior.

Mariah's avatar

Subjective, not suggestive – a Freudian slip or autocorrect?

ragingloli's avatar

What do you call a primary schooler with no friends?
A Sandy Hook survivor.

Mariah's avatar

In these times I just think that kind of humor divides us more. Just my opinion though. This thread proves humor is subjective.

canidmajor's avatar

@ragingloli: Why do you find that Sandy hook thing funny?

ragingloli's avatar

Because it is.

Mimishu1995's avatar

What makes a dish delicious? What makes a song good? What makes a book interesting? What makes a piece of art beautiful?

Similarly, humor is something objective. You can cook something that pleases everybody, you can’t write a book that pleases everybody, and you can’t tell a joke that makes everybody laughs.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

As long as at least one person laughs.

The fewer that laugh in a group the more clever the joke is.

Didn’t get the joke?

We have Google now.


Go hide in your room.

ucme's avatar

Humour being subjective never needed proving, there have been several threads on the topic over the years & inevitably, they raise friction.
Satire has, for generations, known no limits & that will remain the case, the merits of it being funny or offensive are irrelevant, boundaries should never come into it.
Dark humour, finding something amusing in the macabre, is just how people have always been wired, to curb the instinct to laugh based purely on judging the material inappropriate, is an unnatural act that’s best avoided.
Humour, amusement & laughter are good things, makes us feel positive, upbeat & alive, by definition, there is no such thing as bad humour…Steve Martin breaks that rule however ;-}

Cruiser's avatar

@Sneki95 To make a point for the sake of making a point as in your case is simply to make yourself feel less guilty. If something makes you laugh…whether the joke is in substance sexist, racist. misogynist, tasteless, shameful, or base is all on you. If it made you laugh IMHO does not indict you to be a card carrying whatever guilt trip others might send you on because you laughed. Sometimes a giggle that erupts from inside you is merely a chuckle from the irony of the source who formulated the prose that made you laugh. Time to lighten up the politically correct stitching that has everyone’s undies in a bunch.

@ucme says it better than I can.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

It is very subjective and people themselves prove that what is funny to one person is disgusting or rude to the next person.

Coloma's avatar

I have a rather offbeat sense of humor and have learned those that get it and appreciate it and those that it totally escapes. I wouldn’t make. serial killer jokes around someone who lost a loved one to a serial killer but otherwise, all bets are off when I am around. If you don’t like my humor that’s your problem. I am, for the most part, quite PC but, I also named the duck and goose barn at my friends ranch ” China Town” because we had Chinese geese and Pekin ducks for pets.

I also just said I would give Trump a vial of Arsenic in a nice pot of tea for Xmas and take no issue with saying ” get a rope” when it comes to buffoonish others. I joke about taking people for a “drag” behind one of the horses here at the ranch and joke about lashing them to a tree, naked and covered in bacon grease to lure in the cougars and coyotes. Quite frankly, a little frontier justice is sorely needed at times if you ask me. haha
If some one wishes to take offense at my dark humor at times, oh well. I have testimonials from friends and relative strangers about how I have “made their day” with my offbeat wisecracks and observations.

Infact, having just moved and closing out my storage account after a few years, the owner of the company sent me an email saying that she was “devastated” I was vacating and who was going to send her funny and sarcastic emails. She went on to say that not many people can make her laugh but I sure can! I promised I would continue to send her funny & sarcastic emails on occasion and she said she is holding me to it.

Berserker's avatar

Humor is subjective but also built on some sort of psychological foundation. Or so I believe, as there is “built” humor such as jokes being told a certain way or stuff on tv and movies that is meant to be funny, and usually achieves this. Something in us, as @ucme says, is wired for humor, probably because people need to laugh sometimes. Laughing has its reasons for existing.
I mean, what did cavemen laugh about? They had to have laughed at shit. A baby laughs when you play with him or her , sometimes something unpredictable that is not meant to be funny, is. What I always get a kick out of are people’s reactions to jokes, rather than the jokes themselves, which is why I collect the most offensive shit I can find. Point is built humor is only a small part of a big human function.

I do think there is a “rule” to humor as it is a natural human thing, however the presentation and what triggers it is fair game. This has nothing to do at all with morality or different types of humor. We find ways or “reasons” to laugh, jokes and canned humor are only a small part.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, perhaps we could look at comedians who made it big, and comedian wannabes who never did.

I think there are things that virtually everyone finds funny (for example, you could be in the middle of a culture that you know nothing about, and don’t speak the language, but if a kid does a funny thing, like only kids can do, everyone, including you, would laugh) and then there are things that only a select few would find funny because of their culture or upbringing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s funny that you asked this. I’ve had a question rolling about in my head all morning about “cool.” What makes someone “cool?” Why are black people, in general, viewed as much more “cool,” and “hip” than most white people? What made James Dean so cool? What makes the Obamas so “cool”?

Speaking of, my new boss is very, very brainy and very strange in ways. I have a feeling that he didn’t have many friends in high school because he’s such a geek. But now he’s a boss. He tries to throw out “black” phrases in an effort to sound cool. “Whassup girl friend!” He just sounds like a geeky white guy trying to be a “cool” black guy! It’s…a little jarring. And uncool. But I like him. He’s quite laid back when he isn’t micro managing.

Sneki95's avatar

@Mimishu1995 You are contradicting yourself there a bit. I get what you’re saying, though, it’s probably typos.

@All (including Mimi as well) Thanks for the answers, interesting views and opinions.

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