Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A comment on humor

Tonight I saw someone that I was good friends with several years ago. Our friendship ended mainly because I went to college and he didn't and because when I saw him he would make offensive comments.

Example: Last fourth of July my friend who's from Sri Lanka unknowingly sat down in a chair where someone else had been planning to sit. He said, "Oh, you just got brown skinned." We said, "Brown skinned?" and he said, "Yeah, it's like being jewed." We told him those comments made us uncomfortable and he continued to say similar things, later attacking one of my friends by saying she hated men.

Tonight I saw this friend again and he was with another friend that likes to make offensive comments. They started saying offensive things and told me they were going to hit me with a car because I am a Marxist. I told them I was uncomfortable with what they were saying. They would stop and then start again on a new train of offensive things. I didn't want to leave because I knew as soon as I did they would talk about me and how I have no sense of humor, but I wanted to leave because I was uncomfortable. Eventually I just left.

This left the question: why do they feel it necessary to make these comments? I feel like I have a very humor-filled life without making jokes that bring groups of people down. Do they enjoy making other people uncomfortable? And if so, why do they enjoy it?


Michael said...

I think at one time, it might have served a purpose. Humor is an excellent bonding agent, and if you're meeting a new group of people, you probably don't know what they find funny, so you have a limited range of jokes you can tell. If you tell self-depreciating jokes, you risk being laughed at rather than laughed with, and you can't bond if you become the target of an evening's jokes.

Targeting a stereotype, however, works. You can identify the target as being not of your group and not of the other person's group, thus limiting the risk that either person attempting to bond will be the butt of the jokes.

However, as societies mingle, the circles we have grow so large that its difficult to pick groups that you don't have connections to.

I might know that the person I was telling say, blonde jokes, to might laugh at them, but I wouldn't laugh because I don't find them particularly funny, so it wouldn't serve as a bonding experience.

There are, however, people that project their views onto other people, that because they find something funny, other people will think it's funny too.

Dori said...

I think that kind of "humor" is grounded in fear. I have known a lot of men who subscribe to that brand of "funny" and they all end up being nothing more than a bundle of insecurities because the world suddenly no longer caters to them. They enjoy hurting others and claiming that it is funny because they can't see any other way to maintain control.