On Being Betrothed to Laughter

“I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me to be the most civilized music in the world.”

– Peter Ustinov

21/v mmxv

In English, a jill is a female ferret; to jill means female masturbation.

When Navajo babies laugh for the first time, they get a party. The food is paid for by whoever made the baby laugh.

The Republican Party is the only political party in U.S. history to win a Presidential Election without achieving a majority of the popular vote. As a result, three Republicans were elected President even though their main opponent received more votes.

More than half the world’s population has seen a James Bond film.

During the Second World War, the Führer oath that every party member, officer and soldier had to take contained the words “I swear in the name of almighty God, my loyalty to the Führer.” Also, the belt buckles of German soldiers were inscribed with ‘Gott mit uns’ (God on our side).

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On the Power of Humour

“It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humour, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humour process is involved in changing them.”

– Edward de Bono

Release Theory

‘The release theory sees jokes as a sort of pressure valve: a socially sanctioned way of letting out taboo thoughts and feelings. Like the superiority theory it assumes that the joke is an aggressive social act, but crucially that it is also a subversive act, a rebellion against the constraints of rational adult behaviour.

It can be a useful way to understand people’s penchant for off-colour jokes, and the frequency with which humour is used to mask hostility or fear. It’s also a good way to explain the popularity of comedy clubs, where people go to ‘let off steam’ by laughing. […]

The pleasure that we get from telling a joke, or from laughing at it, comes from satisfying some element of our libido that we can’t openly reveal, because our society forbids us to do so. […] Every joke that really makes you laugh, according to this reading, is either an act of veiled sexual aggression or a cry for help, stemming from some childhood sexual trauma. On a brighter note, the very act of telling a joke is a sort of pressure valve that relieves some of the build-up libidinal steam we’re all repressing.’

– Carr J., Greeves L. 2006. The Naked Jape – Uncovering The Hidden World Of Jokes London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (2007) p. 95-97

Ambivalence Theory

‘According to this concept of humour, our laughter is the symptom of an internal battle between opposing emotions. In 1653 Louis Joubert sowed the seeds of this theory when he proposed that comic laughter is an emotion located in the heart. When we experience a conflict between joy and sadness, the heart shakes the diaphragm, resulting in laughter.

A century or so later James Beattie wrote that laughter is evoked by ‘an opposition of suitableness and unsuitableness.’ William Hazlitt also contributed to this school of thought, noting in 1819 that ‘the jostling of one feeling against another’ was an essential element of the comical.

In recent years the platform for this debate has been increasingly philosophical rather than psychological – less emphasis on shaky diaphragms and even shakier anatomical knowledge – but for all these theorists, laughter is an outward sign of an inward conflict.

Psychologist J. Y. T. Greig asserts that all humour is based on a conflict between love and fear, while George Milner suggests that the clash between culture and nature is to blame. […]

“Cleanliness is next to impossible.”
– Audrey Austin

According to ambivalence theorists, laughter is essentially a wobble of uncertainty – even, perhaps, a snort of embarrassment, of not knowing how to react.

It’s a nice theory, but its a bit sweeping. For a start, not every ‘jostling of one feeling against another’ results in humour – far from it. Ambivalence about such existential oppositions as love and fear is more likely to result in uncertainty, brow-furrowing, and panic attacks, even though joking about it might help to diminish the angst. You could also argue that the tension between nature and culture defines the human condition, and just the psychology of humour.

As human beings, we are essentially apes aspiring to the condition of angels. The results of this struggle seldom rise above the farcical. So, in effect, all the ambivalence theory tells us is what we think, therefore we laugh.’

– Carr J., Greeves L. 2006. The Naked Jape – Uncovering The Hidden World Of Jokes London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (2007) p. 94-95