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The_Radiation_Specialist
2007-Nov-07, 04:24 PM
I was thinking of this the other day. How do you distinguish between something which is funny and something lame? Does it depend on different people or different moods you have?

And, what constitutes as being funny?

Now getting more biological, what are the processes that make you laugh? What do all funny things have in common that cause you to, in extreme circumstances, spit coffee all over your monitor? Also, what is the evolutionary purpose of humor or laughter?

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 04:26 PM
Dude! YOU'RE funny!






* I have the feeling this is going to be a very complicated thread...

SeanF
2007-Nov-07, 04:32 PM
What do all funny things have in common that cause you to, in extreme circumstances, spit coffee all over your monitor?
The one thing that all those situations have in common is that they happen to me when I'm drinking coffee in front of my monitor.

I'm a big fan of satirical, absurd humor. Monty Python, Sledge Hammer!, things like that.

Evolutionary advantage? I don't know. One could say that because laughing feels good, people who can make others laugh would have higher reproductive opportunities, but that just begs the question of why laughing feels good (and why certain things make others laugh).

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 04:43 PM
Why do some people laugh when they see someone get hurt, walk into a tree or fall down then?

suntrack2
2007-Nov-07, 04:43 PM
humour means a self generated action to receive a good laugh, our life is half if we don't create humour, in the behavioural aspects of the human being the evolution of humour was done when the things were going so boring, hence this art has came put forward. Humour is pretty nice even to release a good amount of stress to exit from the mind, humour also improves your laughing styles, a good excercise to the bones of jaw, and it create a nice impact on the mind to rest in a relaxing mood. I think if we hear some humour to the heart patient then it will assist him beautifully. Is it not !

sunil

tdvance
2007-Nov-07, 04:46 PM
What is humor? the short answer is "whatever people think is funny". The Man from Mars's answer was something on the line of celebrating the fallibility of humanity (been a while since I read Stranger in a Strange Land).

What is it biologically? We have a fight-or-flight instinct, a predisposition to do violence for self- and species-preservation, or to run away or hide or threaten violence in hopes of causing the threat to run or hide. Any instinct is going to come with side effects--something that is a hint of a threat is gong to give a hint of a response. A joke could easily be a hint of a threat, and laughing so hard you faint may be the hint of the fight-or-flight response to that threat.

The same goes for being ticklish, and explains why you can't tickle yourself. If you could, you'd give yourself away to predators every time you moved.

Click Ticker
2007-Nov-07, 04:48 PM
What is OJ Simpsons favorite soft drink?

Slice!

Heard on TV last night. I thought it was funny. Plays on words are funny to me. As far as why humans laugh and why different people laugh at different things - I can't even pretend to know. I'm just glad we do.

Paul Beardsley
2007-Nov-07, 04:51 PM
I think a lot of humour is the result of tension between expectations and what you actually get.

Some humour is lame because it assumes you're expecting a certain thing, but you've already worked out what you're going to get, either because you've heard it before, or because it is obvious.

The amount of tension required seems to increase with age. Riddles used to make me laugh as a child. "What runs around a field but doesn't move?" "A hedge." Now I might think, "Hmm, that's quite clever - it's deliberately using 'run' to suggest the action of moving your legs at speed, but it turns out to be the other meaning of run after all." (No, I wouldn't actually think that.)

No idea what the evolutionary advantage was.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 04:51 PM
What is OJ Simpsons favorite soft drink?

Slice!

Heard on TV last night. I thought it was funny. Plays on words are funny to me. As far as why humans laugh and why different people laugh at different things - I can't even pretend to know. I'm just glad we do.

I don't think the Goldman family would find it humorous.

torque of the town
2007-Nov-07, 05:05 PM
Why do some people laugh when they see someone get hurt, walk into a tree or fall down then?



Someone did explain that reaction to me as "I'm glad that wasn't me".. but I'm not convinced, some people find the sickest things funny:confused:


David

Click Ticker
2007-Nov-07, 05:06 PM
I don't think the Goldman family would find it humorous.

Don't be such a priss ;)

To find some things funny - there needs to be a willingness to seperate reality from the joke. I find some off-color humor quite funny, even at my own expense. That goes back to my comment about not knowing why one thing makes one person laugh and the same thing offends another.

How was copper wire invented?

Two Hollanders fighting over a penny.

Can I tell that joke because my ancestry is mostly Dutch? Would other Dutch people be offended by the joke? I happen to fit the stereotype and live as a very cheep Hollander. I still find the joke funny - picturing two people pulling at a penny until it stretches into wire.

How was the Grand Canyon formed?

A Hollander dropped a nickle down a gopher hole.

Funny. I know I'd go after the nickle as well. Should people be limited to telling those jokes as long as they are a part of the group? African American comedians come to mind. Seinfeld did an episode about a comedian that converted to Judaism for the jokes. Is that okay?

So far I liked Paul Beardsley's definition the best.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 05:11 PM
Don't be such a priss ;)
<chuckle>
ETA: WEIRD! I had typed right here about how I was pointing out that TRS' OP had mentioned that whether or not something is funny depends on the situation and mood- And when the post finished submitting- that part was completely GONE!

It honestly is a tough question. I'm off today anyway- So I'm googling the chemistry behind it. (Well, not entirely off- I have one job around 2 o'clock) to see if maybe we can find a scientific reason- then maybe speculate on the evolutionary.

Humor is such a broad topic- and so varied- it really is hard to nail it.

ETA 2: Ugh, now it double posted... Deleting the first one now...:rolleyes: I'm having a BAUT day...

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-07, 05:15 PM
Why do some people laugh when they see someone get hurt, walk into a tree or fall down then?

Don't know. But it can be pretty funny. There was a good scene in the movie Quest for Fire about physical humor and how it can be learned.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 05:18 PM
Don't know. But it can be pretty funny. There was a good scene in the movie Quest for Fire about physical humor and how it can be learned.

:D
I've seen that movie:p

torque of the town
2007-Nov-07, 05:30 PM
I still find that seen from "Only fools and horses" where Del Trotter falls through the bar hatch hilarious.

Noclevername
2007-Nov-07, 05:36 PM
Humor can also be non-spontaneous; how often have you anticipated a punchline/sightgag, known it was coming, and still laughed? I re-watch comedy movies I've seen a dozen times and still find them funny.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-07, 05:41 PM
How about "The Aristocrats" joke? This joke is guaranteed to divide people on what's funny and what's not.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 05:49 PM
How about "The Aristocrats" joke? This joke is guaranteed to divide people on what's funny and what's not.

tell it

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-07, 05:50 PM
tell it

Yeah, when I want to get banned. It can be found in wiki.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-07, 05:54 PM
Yeah, when I want to get banned. It can be found in wiki.

ahhh gotcha...

At first I thought that Wiki was ruining it by setting it up that way...

But I think if someone told me that joke- I still wouldn't find it funny at all.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-07, 05:57 PM
ahhh gotcha...

At first I thought that Wiki was ruining it by setting it up that way...

But I think if someone told me that joke- I still wouldn't find it funny at all.

There's a whole movie about "The Aristocrats" joke, with dozens of famous comedians: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436078/

ETA: BTW, I haven't given my opinion on the joke - and won't.

mike alexander
2007-Nov-08, 12:28 AM
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger; Comedy is when you fall in an open manhole and die." -Mel Brooks.

Mel is right, and Paul basically says the same thing. I've also read that humor/laughter is some sort of interrupted fight/flight reflex.

The question of why is feels so good is down there with the question of why anything feels good.

Van Rijn
2007-Nov-08, 12:45 AM
Now getting more biological, what are the processes that make you laugh? What do all funny things have in common that cause you to, in extreme circumstances, spit coffee all over your monitor? Also, what is the evolutionary purpose of humor or laughter?

Here's an article (pdf) on the subject:

http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/ep04347366.pdf

Mostly, there's a lot unknown about it.

Noclevername
2007-Nov-08, 12:58 AM
Also, what is the evolutionary purpose of humor or laughter?

Not everything has an evolutionary purpose, unless it effects survival and/or reproduction. There might just be no evolutionary pressure to get rid of a mutational quirk.

Whirlpool
2007-Nov-08, 04:59 AM
Laughter is the best medicine as they say.

A humor depends of what kind of personality you have and from what culture or country you came from.

There are some jokes that maybe funny to the other but not to another.

And there are different categories of those I think , depends of the age or group.

:think:

Askin
2007-Nov-08, 07:54 AM
I was thinking of this the other day. How do you distinguish between something which is funny and something lame? Does it depend on different people or different moods you have?

And, what constitutes as being funny?

Now getting more biological, what are the processes that make you laugh? What do all funny things have in common that cause you to, in extreme circumstances, spit coffee all over your monitor? Also, what is the evolutionary purpose of humor or laughter?
-------------------------------------------------------
Thank God, I am not interested in inquiring the psychological, sociological, and biological bases of humor, as if I did, it would leave me no time to write
humor or laugh at the jokes and wit of my friends at our daily meetings at the
cafe.

MentalAvenger
2007-Nov-08, 08:16 AM
Humor is a state of mind. It is the willingness to accept the “turn of a phrase” or “an unexpected outcome” as comical. Humor is based almost exclusively upon a clever adaptation of ordinary human responses to an extraordinary situation, or the extraordinary responses of ordinary humans to an ordinary situation. Most often, it is the latter. Humor then becomes the relief of the typical person when they realize that the situation is not what they feared, but is a actually a relatively mundane response to an otherwise ordinary situation.

Paul Beardsley
2007-Nov-08, 08:50 AM
-------------------------------------------------------
Thank God, I am not interested in inquiring the psychological, sociological, and biological bases of humor, as if I did, it would leave me no time to write
humor or laugh at the jokes and wit of my friends at our daily meetings at the
cafe.

That might be true for you, but frankly I think it's one of those myths that gets put about.

I'm fascinated by the "mechanics" of humour, but I do not feel this diminishes my enjoyment of jokes at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Sean Clayden
2007-Nov-08, 11:22 AM
Humour is something that is different in many people, it depends on topic and our inner child. I would imagine that most men would find a loud passing of wind to be funny whereas a women would not.

suntrack2
2007-Nov-08, 12:50 PM
Humourous tips, talks, notes, comics, magzines all are welcome in the travel, the travelling may be easy if we accompany such stuff with us. It assist in killing our time in a better fassion to avoid the travel stress. :)

reidenschneider
2007-Nov-08, 01:05 PM
some years ago i collected a number of copies of arthur koestler's "act of creation" and gave them out to those among my friends who i felt might read some if not all of this thoughtful book.

it like g. leggman's "rational of the dirty joke" provided views on some aspects of humour.

in closing. a priest, a pastor and a rabbi walk into a bar. the bartender looks up and say's "what is this? a joke" :) :lol:

MAPNUT
2007-Nov-08, 01:42 PM
The basic definition of a joke seems to be a story in which the ending is a surprise or ironic contrast to the expected, which startles the hearer into a reaction. Why it seems to cause pleasure is more of a mystery:

[QUOTE=tdvance;1107233]What is humor? the short answer is "whatever people think is funny". The Man from Mars's answer was something on the line of celebrating the fallibility of humanity (been a while since I read Stranger in a Strange Land).
[QUOTE]

Heinlein was onto something in "Stranger"; IIRC, his take was that almost everything that is funny reflects on human weakness, failure or disaster. Therefore the urge to laugh when the other guy falls down the hole could be an evolutionary mechanism to protect our sanity by releasing stress (as others have said).

Enough analysis. Some jokes are universal. Here's a variation on the Dutchman and the nickel down the gopher hole. A Vermont farmer was using one hole of his two-hole outhouse when the hired man came in to use the other. As the farmer finished and was pulling up his pants, a dime fell out of his pocket and down the hole. Whereupon he pulled out his wallet, took out a twenty-dollar bill, and threw that down the hole. The hired man said, "What in God's name did you do that for?"

The farmer said, "You don't think for a minute, do you, that I'm going to climb down in there for a lousy dime?"

Paul Beardsley
2007-Nov-08, 03:09 PM
Heinlein was onto something in "Stranger"; IIRC, his take was that almost everything that is funny reflects on human weakness, failure or disaster. Therefore the urge to laugh when the other guy falls down the hole could be an evolutionary mechanism to protect our sanity by releasing stress (as others have said).
I don't agree with the first bit. It might be true in some cases, but a lot of what's funny is purely conceptual, with the role of the humans being almost incidental.

A lot of conceptual humour works on the basis that we know something is untrue, but it is treated as if it were true. In one Father Ted episode, for instance, there's a major animal show being held on Craggy Island, and Father Ted has bet the winter budget on a sheep called Chris. "What if Chris loses?" asks Father Dougal. "I don't think he will," says Ted, "but if he does... well, if the winter turns out to be as warm as the summer, we'll be fine!" He then finds a newspaper with the front page headline, "Warm Winter Forecast!" But then Dougal realises that's last year's paper, whereas this year's paper has the headline, "Cold Winter Forecast!"

Meanwhile, two men are talking about a sheep-eating monster that's been sighted on Craggy Island. They deliberately speak loudly enough for Chris to overhear. Afterwards, we see the sheep looking scared, and unable to sleep.

To my mind, almost none of that reflects on human weakness - not even the "warm winter" stuff, because we are not laughing at two priests being too stupid to realise that winter is cold, we are laughing at the idea that this coming winter might be as warm as the summer.

Not all non-conceptual humour reflects on humans either. I remember standing on a pier, with a good view of a walkway consisting of several square gratings less than a foot above the sea. A wave passed under the walkway, and as it did so it "erupted" from one grating, then the next, then the next, each in turn. It was a perfectly natural aspect of wave behaviour, but everybody watching laughed each time it happened. (Nobody got wet, BTW, so it wasn't even a slapstick moment.)

And even when we are laughing at other people's disasters, it's not a simple process. Most of us will not laugh when we see someone take some serious damage, or be given grim medical news. If a passing seagull decides to dump its load while a bald man is standing below it, it's very funny if it lands directly on his head, but less funny if it merely lands on his shoulder. Most of us laugh if we see a humourless, self-important man (such as a strict boss or bank manager) slip on a banana skin, but it doesn't make it funnier if it turns out he's done his back in as a result.

Because of these complications, I don't really see an obvious evolutionary advantage.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-08, 03:11 PM
A lot of conceptual humour works on the basis that we know something is untrue, but it is treated as if it were true.

Like the Black Knight scene in MP's The Holy Grail. :)

Paul Beardsley
2007-Nov-08, 04:25 PM
Like the Black Knight scene in MP's The Holy Grail. :)

Interesting example! It was the Black Knight's absurdly inappropriate reaction to his "misfortune" that provided the humour, rather than the "misfortune" itself.

Er, well, maybe, maybe not. Some people might simply have thought it was funny to see somebody horribly dismembered. A chacun a something or other, as they say in Leg Language.

I saw a recent MP in which the main character had to face a firing squad about halfway through. The squad took aim, and fired...

Cut to a scene where their embarrassed officer is ordering them to get some shooting practice.

The joke was dictated by necessity - the character had to survive somehow because there was still half an episode to run - but it was still funny.

Occam
2007-Nov-08, 06:46 PM
A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Broni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the shepherd, "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"
The shepherd looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answers, "Sure. Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects to his mobile phone, surfs to a NSA page on the internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NSA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds, he receives an email on his Blackberry that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of complex formulas. He uploads all of this data via an email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1586 sheep."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my sheep." says the shepherd.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car. Then the shepherd says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back the animal?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're an IT consultant." says the shepherd

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required." answered the shepherd. "You showed up here even though nobody called you, you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don't know crap about my business."
"...Now give me back my dog."

Paul Beardsley
2007-Nov-08, 06:55 PM
I heard a much shorter version of that one. It was a blonde who dyed her hair black, and she got the answer right entirely by chance. The shepherd said, "If I can guess your actual hair colour, can I have my sheep dog back please?"

Occam
2007-Nov-08, 07:18 PM
So, I had a car accident this morning. I ran into the back of this Honda Civic. The guy gets out and he’s a dwarf. He looks at the damage, comes over to me and says “I’m not happy”

So I says “Which one are you then?”

Van Rijn
2007-Nov-08, 11:25 PM
Interesting example! It was the Black Knight's absurdly inappropriate reaction to his "misfortune" that provided the humour, rather than the "misfortune" itself.


I was thinking of that example myself. Sometimes when I change channels, I pass a show called (I think) "Funny Home Videos." I've never watched more than five minutes of it because it seems to primarily consist of people getting hurt (not too badly, to be sure, but it looks painful) and I don't find that funny at all. On the other hand, I found the Black Knight scene hilarious, both because of his ridiculous reaction to dismemberment, and because it was so obviously faked.

Still, I've sometimes received some pretty nasty frowns and curious looks when I've tried to describe the scene to people who haven't seen it and aren't familiar with Monty Python humor.