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imdow123

What makes something funny?

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Just recently, I was wondering what makes things funny and what makes us laugh?

 

Simple deviation from normal behaviour causes us to laugh although if it's something serious, it will not.

 

Just recently I saw on T.V. :- People talked in an unconventional way. They ommited prepositions and some other English words from their sentences, something like this:-

I am going --> I going

He is laughing --> He laugh

 

This was very funny when they talked like this with each other. Now that I look back, it is stupid but nonetheless it made me laugh at that point of time.

So in general, what actually makes us laugh? What is laughter?

Edited by imdow123

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Somehow, I still remember that from Logic classes at 11th grade...

 

Absurds make funny.

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Benign temporary suspension of expected social mores

 

But - why does that result in the psychological response and the physical act of laughter?

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Why might laughter have evolved as a response to mild breach of social conventions? Might laughter act as a social cohesive, a means for human groups to define rules?

Edited by Tridimity

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BBC News;

New research has given credence to the idea that laughter evolved in a common ancestor of the great apes and humans.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8083230.stm

 

I'm willing to bet that if someone named any facet of human behavior or experience and combined it with the word "laughing" on an internet search that they could find a verifiable incidence of that behavior or circumstance concurrent with laughter of some kind.

 

Here's a PubMed abstract about

Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2556917

 

I don't think I'm qualified to say what that all means, but I am going to make an effort to laugh more. Just seem's like a good idea.

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A key element in initiating laughter seems to be surprise when faced with the unexpected ...laughter diffuses shock or embarrassment which is socially negative. It's a socially acceptable means of expression when faced with the absurd ...we have evolved to use this as a mechanism to relax because it releases endorphins which chill people out and also dopamine because it excites them. I would guess the dopamine is released first in the laughter phase then the endorphins follow to compensate for elevated dopamine levels.

Edited by StringJunky

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I'll reprint my answer to another thread entitled What makes something funny?

 

You're looking for the patterns that set up something to be funny, not the material itself, right? Because subject material is highly subjective. One of the funniest jokes I've ever heard is so horribly offensive in its subject matter that most folks can't look beyond that to see how brilliantly funny the joke really is.

Triplets are always a good pattern (a priest, a lumberjack and a gynecologist walk into a bar...). Words with b, d, g, k, and p are generally funnier sounding than words without them (aardvark is a funnier word than anteater). The sounds of them are occluded vocally, making them start and stop suddenly, which is good for comedy. Exaggeration is always good, as is a vast disparity between objects and people (an ant walks up to an elephant...).

Misdirection is a favorite as well (Steve Martin told this joke about being sad that his girlfriend died. "In a way, it was my fault. She'd been drinking heavily and wanted to leave the party. I told her I should drive and asked for her keys. She refused, we argued some more, she insisted on driving, so I shot her."). Lead the audience down the wrong path, make them think they know what's coming, and then spring something completely off the wall at them.

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The delightful reaction of a baby comes to mind. A loud sudden noise like a dog bark or a parents sneeze startles the infant who then reflexes into a frozen shocked expression, arms outstretched and stiff, head thrown back with his/her eyes bulging out. The baby's expression is still frozen and seems to last forever, you wait for the recovery of breathing and the expected scream of terror. But instead you are delighted with the loudest and most enthusiastic laugh you have ever heard come out of that little one. What is going on in that amazing little brain?smile.png

Edited by arc

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The delightful reaction of a baby comes to mind. A loud sudden noise like a dog bark or a parents sneeze startles the infant who then reflexes into a frozen shocked expression, arms outstretched and stiff, head thrown back with his/her eyes bulging out. The baby's expression is still frozen and seems to last forever, you wait for the recovery of breathing and the expected scream of terror. But instead you are delighted with the loudest and most enthusiastic laugh you have ever heard come out of that little one. What is going on in that amazing little brain?smile.png

 

If it were an adult who had been startled, then I would posit that their laughter would be a reaction to their own inappropriate response to the perceived threat. However, I doubt that babies have this degree of self-awareness, so perhaps the laughter is simply an expression of relief that the perceived threat turned out to be non-dangerous?

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5062206297_824a0bbbdf_n.jpg

I discovered a package at McDonalds that contained an unexpected element of humor. This package contained one individual pumpkin pie.

The logo that the viewer is supposed to associate with the image of the couple hugging is "...I'm lovin' it".

But the statement warning the viewer "CAUTION handle with care I'M HOT" also fits the image in a humorous way that was unintended by the company.
Also, one study claimed that the smell of pumpkin pie stimulates arousal in men, that its scent is an aphrodisiac.eyebrow.gif

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If it were an adult who had been startled, then I would posit that their laughter would be a reaction to their own inappropriate response to the perceived threat. However, I doubt that babies have this degree of self-awareness, so perhaps the laughter is simply an expression of relief that the perceived threat turned out to be non-dangerous?

 

I think it may be that the sudden surprise that initiates the greatest laughs is possibly closely related to the same part of the brain that is stimulated during a scary movie or a wild amusement ride. You will see more smiles then frowns on a really good roller coaster, its almost impossible to ride one and not smile. The riders seem to go from laughs to screams and back in a seamless progression. I think these two emotion's main commonality is the surprise response. The scary and comedic movies look to attract the same emotion junkies. smile.png

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I think it may be that the sudden surprise that initiates the greatest laughs is possibly closely related to the same part of the brain that is stimulated during a scary movie or a wild amusement ride. You will see more smiles then frowns on a really good roller coaster, its almost impossible to ride one and not smile. The riders seem to go from laughs to screams and back in a seamless progression. I think these two emotion's main commonality is the surprise response. The scary and comedic movies look to attract the same emotion junkies. smile.png

 

Good point. But what is the evolutionary advantage of responding to unexpected benign events with the physical hallmarks of laughter: noise production, contraction of abdominal muscles, closing eyes/crying (in some cases), changing the position of the head to look to sky/ground? Why are we wired to respond in this way?

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There are 2 interesting aspects of this.

 

1) Animals do not have a sense of humor. This privilege seems to have been granted exclusively to humans.

2) Laughter is the best medicine. Research has proven that heart rate and blood pressure drop after a bout of laughter which itself is a workout for the heart.

 

Also it is worth emphasizing that what is funny for one person could actually be the victimization (or negative parody) of somebody else.

Laughter that cuts across cultural barriers is mostly visual (Americas Funny Home Videos), and situational (like Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello - all giants of comedy genre) and is cathartic in its effects.

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Well animals, at least do share laughter (Davila Ross et al. Curr Biol. 2009 Jul 14;19(13):1106-11.). Figuring out humor is a bit trickier as it is not that easily measured.

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Good point. But what is the evolutionary advantage of responding to unexpected benign events with the physical hallmarks of laughter: noise production, contraction of abdominal muscles, closing eyes/crying (in some cases), changing the position of the head to look to sky/ground? Why are we wired to respond in this way?

 

I would say the evolutionary purpose would be to furnish a release, a safety valve if you will, to redirect the emotional and chemical response that our distant ancestors had to the earliest experiences of a false fight or flight reflex. It may simply be that a smaller brain may handle these subconscious and sudden reactions better than a larger more complex brain. As the Hominids reached a certain critical mass of brain complexity there may have surfaced a vulnerability to the sudden stresses that is missing in the preceding, smaller and less complex brain structures.

 

If you consider there could have been numerous false triggers in a typical early Hominids day. Birds suddenly rushing from an overhead tree, small animals flushed from the nearby grass. A large brain's increased capacity for imagination could possibly have overwhelmed itself from this stimuli. This humorous response we experience to sudden surprise now, may have redirected a destructive level of stress back then. Giving the hominid the ability to continue to react to survive and not become, trough repeated incidences, either desensitized or over reactive.

 

And over the intervening time humans have gained more control over this emotional response, even figuring how to elicit it in others, through the use of clever physical gags or language skills, a sudden and uncontrollable response of laughter. smile.png

Edited by arc

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And over the intervening time humans have gained more control over this emotional response, even figuring how to elicit it in others, through the use of clever physical gags or language skills, a sudden and uncontrollable response of laughter.

 

The type of laughter you describe is a paroxysm. It is not necessarily the only form or cause of laughter.

For example, an infant smiles when it sees its mother. This is a type of laughter which though not necessarily funny,

is an example of pattern recognition. Visual or auditory cues also trigger laughter. For example, if one hears a bugle at an opportune moment, this is followed by laughter in most cases. Laughter seems to be prevalent in groups, where if one member laughs, other members follow. I am not sure what kind of biological response this is, but it seems akin to the yawn, where scientific evidence has confirmed that if one person in a group yawns, it is very likely that others follow.unsure.png

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Good point. But what is the evolutionary advantage of responding to unexpected benign events with the physical hallmarks of laughter: noise production, contraction of abdominal muscles, closing eyes/crying (in some cases), changing the position of the head to look to sky/ground? Why are we wired to respond in this way?

 

I saw a TEDTalk recently where the speaker showed results from testing what endorphins were released when we smile. Iirc, it was actually muscle related, since she claimed if you didn't really feel like smiling, you could get the same release of chemicals by putting a pen between your teeth to force the muscles into a smiling position. These chemicals may provide more clarity in stressful situations, definitely an evolutionary advantage.

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Tridimity,

 

I like your drift the most.

 

We, you and me, were on a thread about the shutdown and politics where many incrongruities where pointed out, many funny things where the dems think the repubs don't get it, and the repubs think the dems don't get it.

 

How do we tell each other "we got it covered" and recognize the danger, recognize the incongruity, but are safe from it, together, if not with a smile, and a laugh, and an occasionally required hug.

 

I like your drift, it works evolutionarilywise. The turn away from the harmful, the embracing of the helpful. What is dangerous and what is safe, and how do we let each other know when we are in agreement.

 

I am a rather literal fellow. I am not so good at banter. I enjoy sarcasm and self depricating humor though, anytime I know I am amoungst friends. Where together knowing the danger, makes it safe to laugh (or cry).

 

Somehow comes back to trust, and this I think is a powerful evolutionary advantage.

 

Regards, TAR

How many times is a laugh associated with the words "I get it now"

or a crying embrace with "I know, I know"

Edited by tar

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