After going through a semester of learning about laughter and how to analyze it, I have come to believe that laughter should not be analyzed. I have sat through countless hours of reading philosophers trying to describe why people laugh and what they do and do not laugh at. They would describe their reasoning in depth and tried to come up with a universal reason for things that are funny and not funny.
It could not be clearer to me that laughter is different for everyone. Each person will NOT laugh at the same thing. It seems ridiculous to assume that everyone will think something is funny; even if your idea is broad. The incongruity theory seemed to be the only idea remotely possible that it could apply to mass numbers of people. It said for the most part that people will laugh at things that are incongruous with what they expected.
Laughter is not something that can be looked into and applied. Laughter is natural. It is an innate quality in people. Proof of this is evident in babies. A baby can laugh before it is really capable of comprehending anything. I could walk up to a baby and simply make a face and it would laugh. It would be absurd to analyze that and say that the baby laughed due to some chemical release from the electrical impulse released from the eyes on the way to the brain. The baby laughed because it is a natural reaction. The same idea is true about why people laugh when they are tickled. When certain nerves are hit, they make people laugh. You should not have to sit down and think about why you laugh. It takes all of the humor and laughter out of it.
Next time you laugh at something, you could sit down for an hour and try to determine whether Freud’s idea of humor and laughter would apply to your situation, or you could just laugh about it without having to think. If you catch yourself laughing, just take a second to think about this!
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