Social Question

deni's avatar

How is our sense of humor formed?

Asked by deni (23042points) October 26th, 2009

I don’t think sense of humor has anything to do with genes or whatever. Some people laugh at everything. Some people rarely laugh. There are people who take everything seriously, can’t understand sarcasm or jokes, and those who think every little thing is funny. But why? Where does it come from? Does it have to do with our childhood and how happy we were? I’ve for some reason been wondering about this lately…what do you guys think? Why are certain things funny to one person but not another? Does it have to do with your opinions on things, or culture, or WHAT?

I know personally I find a LOT of things funny. It doesn’t take much to make me laugh. But often times things that are supposed to be funny to me, aren’t. Stand up comics…I rarely ever laugh. But if I see a picture of an anteater, I’m on the floor. I don’t know why though. I’ve always been a happy person, in my childhood as well, so does that contribute to me laughing at everything as well? Anything?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

27 Answers

troubleinharlem's avatar

I kinda think that what people think is funny is partly based on what they’ve experienced. For others, they laugh because they don’t want to cry. Your opinions and your beliefs are what you’ve experienced, so when someone tells a joke that seems really lame to one person, other people would laugh. Here’s an example.

Why are rhinos wrinkly?
(The answer’s at the bottom.)

I found it hilariously funny – I don’t know why, maybe because it was ridiculous. My best friend Laurie, however, thought it was completely random. We shared a few laughs and went on with geometry homework. But, all in all, as long as people laugh, we’re doing pretty good. It’s good for your soul. (:

Answer: Because he couldn’t iron himself.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

A good sense of humor may not be genetic, but I think your environment has everything to do with it. Both of my parents had good senses of humor & there was a lot of laughter in my family. I also learned to laugh at myself. I think if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re going to have a hard go of it. Why take the world so seriously? Don’t worry…be happy. :-)

deni's avatar

@troubleinharlem i totally don’t get that joke but i think rhinos are a funny thought anyhow, so mission accomplished lol :)

@jbfletcherfan i totally agree. if someone can’t laugh at themself, they are USUALLY someone i wont get along with. wheres the fun?

J0E's avatar

Good question, I wonder the same thing myself. I think it is partly genetic because I have an aunt an uncle who share my sense of humor. I also think it is somewhat gained over a lifetime, whether it be hearing jokes from friends or watching funny TV shows.

However it’s formed they need to find out and turn it into a vaccination so we can spread it worldwide.

nmguy's avatar

One thing that helps is to have a good understanding of irony. Another is to be able to make comparisons, i.e., taking a serious situation and comparing it to a similar, silly situation.

ragingloli's avatar

like babby

deni's avatar

@ragingloli lolololololololol i’m glad someone else thought of that when they read the question. thousands of GA’s for you. if i could.

J0E's avatar

See, this is where humor differs. I thought the “babby” quote was funny the first few times but now I’m just sick of it.

troubleinharlem's avatar

I don’t even get the babby reference. xD

jbfletcherfan's avatar

What’s the babby thing??? Never heard of it.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@jbfletcherfan – xD it’s a something awful meme from the forum “something awful”.
i can’t believe i didn’t catch that.

J0E's avatar

This brings up another contributor to humor: The Internet.

deni's avatar

@J0E I will probably get burnt out on babby soon too. I’ve only watched it twice…once was years ago and the other time was a few weeks ago. So it’s not too old to me yet, and it’s just so ridiculous I can’t help but laugh about it still.

jackm's avatar

I think the basis of humor is that there is something unexpected. Its a normal story, until the punch line.

To get rewarded (pleasure in the brain) for finding unexpected things makes sense evolutionarily. Humans beat all other mammals because we were rewarded when we found and made a mental note of exceptions.

chaosrob's avatar

Larry Niven once wrote that humor is associated with an interrupted defense mechanism. Make of that what you like.

judochop's avatar

1 part Airplane
2 parts Naked Gun
½ part Andrew Dice Clay
½ part Chris Rock
1/10 part Eddie Murphy
1 cup Father
1 cup Mother
3 cups Uncle

Mix together in a boston tin, shake for 30 seconds, strain chunks of Clay and Rock, pour over round ice cubes, add a pinch of smoked salt and drink. Served in a rocks glass but can be shaken with ice to dilute from time to time and served in a martini glass.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I agree that environment has a lot to do with how we shape our sense of humor. Included in that would be life experience and humor as a defense mechanism.

For example you will find certain types of humor present in different cultural groups. I know that in my own cultural group we have a certain type of humor that others don’t identify with as easily as those in our group. This humor is also a type of defense mechanism within the group.

Then their is the uniqueness factor. For example I love puns. My sister (only one year apart) despises them. This has been true since our teen-hood. So same environment, very similar life experiences, but it is our personality that determined this difference. However that is formed ;).

@chaosrob Great contribution!

Harp's avatar

To be susceptible to some forms of humor requires an element of surrender that some people have a hard time with. If you’re listening to stand-up comedy or someone telling a joke, you have to be willing to let yourself be led along, lower your guard, relinquish control. Much of this kind of humor works by misdirection, the same way a stage magician works. The comedian leads you to anticipate one thing, then veers off in a completely different direction. This works poorly on someone who can’t let themselves be manipulated in this way, or who is always trying to see the gag coming.

There are people who can’t be hypnotized because they’re unwilling to give themselves over to the suggestions of the hypnotist, and I wonder if there would be a correlation between these people and those who are cold to jokes. On the surface, it would seem like this would be a matter of trust and so be related to one’s formative experiences, but in the case of hypnotism, there’s actually a physical test that indicates how susceptible one will be to hypnosis, which would seem to indicate a genetic component.

simone54's avatar

I think it’s genetic.

There are many different forms of intelligence. One of them is creativity/imagination. The people that are creative are always the ones with best sense of humor. Now-a-days doctors and scientists are saying intelligence is all based on genetics. So there for, sense of humor is genetic.

janbb's avatar

I think mine was formed by my culture – Jewish – and family – very verbal and quickwitted. It was further shaped by exposure to English humor such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the Northern sarcasm and literal-minded humor of my North of Engand husband (think the Beatles.) I imagine there is also an innate element in my personality that draws me to verbal, sarcastic humor rather than mindless slapstick or stupidity. Never could stand the Three Stooges!

rooeytoo's avatar

I loved the vegetable jokes, like “What is orange and rides a white horse, answer, the Lone Carrot.” I know it is totally inane but it breaks me up. I laugh at lot of stuff but I am sort of serious by nature. I’ve always responded to the David Letterman sort of humor. And I really like my dogs, they always make me laugh with their antics.

I am not sure how I came to be this way, it has to be influenced by the environment in which I was raised, my overall experiences in life. @Dominicx said the other day that Yakety Sax makes anything funny and that is true too, the atmosphere in which an event occurs has a lot to do with whether something is funny or not.


deni's avatar

@rooeytoo I think those kind of jokes are funny too. Have you ever seen those funny vegetable calendars? They crack me up. It sounds so stupid, but they are hilarious. And I can’t find them on the internet. Arg.

rooeytoo's avatar

@deni – no I haven’t seen them, but I bet I would like them. If you find one online send me the link, I would love to see.

mattbrowne's avatar

Semantic memory in our brains.

janbb's avatar

@mattbrowne Or, in my case, semitic memory in my brain. :-)

philosopher's avatar

I try to laugh every day. It decreases my stress level .
LOL I even laugh at myself.
I am funny . I attempt to do several things at once and sometimes I make silly mistakes. I never have enough time to do all I must.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther