Thoughts About Humor By James Lynch November 2012
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When it comes to humor, and another person’s feelings are involved, we should keep a few things in mind. One, how well do you know the person or audience? Two, there is a time and place for certain types of humor.
Let us say you have people who have known you for some years; In fact, they are in your closest realm of friends. You happen to trip over a crack in the sidewalk and after your close friend sees you are all right, he or she starts to make jokes to you and your circle of friends about your two left feet. Oh, how the three or four of you just laugh and laugh as they add more flare to the jokes! No harm done at all you and your friends say to one another.
Imagine the same scenario above, but this time there is someone around scoping you out for a job, scholarship, or to develop deeper social ties. Would you want the newcomer thinking you have two left feet when you really do not? At the very least, would such humor at the inappropriate time engender respect for you, or the exact opposite?
Humor is designed to bring happiness, laughter, and joy. When jokes are made at inappropriate times, they can be viewed as dourness or ripping sarcasm. How much longer do you think such an individual would stay in your circle of friends?
It is good at times to break the ice, so to speak, when meeting someone new with jovial humor. However, stay away from jokes that may offend someone’s culture backgrounds and belief systems. How about researching some jokes that are meant to inspire. Such humor will go a long way in building relationships.
We could go into a variety of scenarios when humor is not funny. Just observe human interaction over the next day or so. See when humor is used, and when it is not. Observe the moments you hear it and how it makes you feel. You will notice that in the United States humor is frequently used to communicate. It seems that when people are depressed some can still express sad feelings through humor. Yet, even if the depressed person is in your closest circle of friends, now would not be the time to ask, “Where are your two left feet today?”
Therefore, we keep the following in mind. The purpose of humor, how familiar we are with the individuals; and that there is a time and place for it.