I just spent 2 hours thinking about the essense of humour. My task was to take all types of humour and generalize them.
I am talking about EVERY type of humour, sharpness and funny storytelling included.

My conclusion is that all types of humour have one common thing.
In the end every type of humour describes a situation in which a creature does something that decreases the chance of its survival.

For example:

  • A dog with a pot on his head: imagined that? Thats funny.
    Thats funny because the dog has less chance to survive when it carries a pot on his head. If it was a pen it wouldn’t be as funny. And indeed the dog would have a better time with a pen.
  • Someone slips on a banana peel: Definetely hurts survival
  • Delibirate misinterpretation of something someone says: We all know that this can be funny. However when you delibirately misinterpret something, you in fact create a virtual character in your head of someone who could have misinterpreted it BY MISTAKE. And such a person would have a low chance of survival being as stupid as he is.

Naturally there are tons of other examples and types of humour I didn’t mention her.
You may think that humour is not about chances of survival, but just about bizzare situations. Well think about it. The more stupid someone in a bizzare situation seems, the funnier the situation is. All the comedies are making fun of the characters. And I think its actually deeper. I think that every type of humour even that doesn’t seem at all like “making fun of” type of humour, is still essentialy about stupid situations that don’t help the survival of the subject.

So far the pseudo-psychology. What do you think?

I should have probably posted it on the philosophy board, since this board is a politics board and not a social science board really.

So the admins are welcomed to move it.

a non fatal error … is there no humoUr there?


To repeat: there is much more of the comic than the tragic in the world.

Thanks for the quote, a very good one.
But actually Nietzsche’s theory is the exact opposite of mine.
It is known that everything in human behaviour is necessary for survival and replication, thats how evolution made us. So humour like everything else is a tool for survival.

So Lets look at this from a perspective of how can we learn from humour - that is how we increase our chances of survival if we laugh.

Nietzsche says: Humour occurs when there is a happy ending to a potentially dangerous situation. So if you laugh now, next time you’ll know not to worry about this kind of situation(Maybe thats why nothing is funny twice). Therefore according to Nietzsche we learn that the target in a funny situation has done something that could be dangerous, but it was not. So the person who laughed at the situation(he can be the target also) can repeat what the target did and not be hurt and therefore increase his chances of survival

I say: The target in a funny situation did something to decrease its chances of survival. So the person who laughed at the situation(he can be the target also) will know that he shouldn’t repeat what the target did because then he would decrease his chances of survival

So this is kind of opposite, but also similar. Makes me happy I analyzed it at least in the saim vein as Nietzsche.

But what is interesting here, except deciding who is correct here, Nietzsche or me, is to understand how all the types of modern humour match either theory. It is quite an undertaking, but is intriguing.
Any help here?

There is no humour here, because even if I posted in the wrong board there is no danger here for me.

I know, that’s why I quoted it.

This is asserted, imagined, speculated. It is far from being known.

I believe that this is true, though along evolutionary lines.

Not so much a happy ending as the absence of any danger when one might have perceived it.

I see it very differently - laughing does nothing, says nothing, teaches nothing about similar future instances. The situation has to be potentially dangerous, so if it occurs again it will be potentially dangerous then, too. One has no idea whether one will be fortunate next time - so it is best to laugh and not worry about it. That’s a layman’s form of how I read this comment of Nietzsche’s.

I’ve no idea what you mean by this.

I don’t think that there is an explanation that suffices for EVERY form of humour, modern or otherwise. I certainly don’t see that evolution need have a thing to do with it just because it’s the scientific dogma of our day.

I suggest that you take an example (find something on youtube) and work solely with that for a bit.

as i once heard;
It’s not funny until someone gets hurt.

in robert a. heinlein’s book ‘stranger in a strange land’ one of the characters (jubal) is explaining comedy to the main character (michael) who had no concept of comedy or love or other human emotions because he was raised by aliens on another planet. jubal says to michael something like: “humans suck. we never enjoy anything unless it involves someone getting hurt. oh sure, we laugh at little things here and there, but we’re not truly entertained or satisfied on a deep level until someone suffers.” u’m paraphrasing of course. heinlein took a bit longer to really analyse it.