Present day scenario: the living are divided by innumerable forces, united by one- Humor (eh…you might have to count The Grumpy Cat out). Considered to be one of the best conversation starters, if you sprinkle a little bit on your pick up line, it’s definitely going to be a hit. Humor is always welcome, irrelevant of time and place (exception: funerals, of course). But the question remains: Where does humor arise from? Where does it spring out of? Be it the witty one-liners or comical works of literature, what is the root cause of humor?
Well, I believe humor originates from a number of sources. The first one that hits me is Exaggeration. Yes, exaggerating an incident in order to make it comical is morally correct if you ask me (not for the purpose of gossip, girls). Not only me, the great English laureates recognize it too. The literary term Hyperbole means the use of exaggeration to emphasize on a point, usually to add color to the character or humor to the story. Mark Twain’s ‘Old Times on the Mississippi’ contains such an example: “I was helpless. I did not know what in the world to do. I was quaking from head to foot, and could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far.” Had he simply written, “I was helpless. I did not know what to do. I was shivering badly and my eyes protruded”, I would have rather snored.
Another foundation for humor is Stereotypes. Sometimes stating the obvious ones helps other times its breaking them that generates humor. There are a number of stereotypes prevailing all around us and often we do not even realize how they add humor to our daily lives. Stereotypes have been around for years and are here to stay, so is the humor they spit out. A blonde being equivalent to dumb (almost all movies/memes/jokes with blondes) will be as hilarious as an Asian being one (all I can think of is The Suite Life of Zack and Cody).
Humor also arises from Ridicule (one of my personal favorites). Be it mocking at somebody else or yourself, this technique always works, as long as nobody gets offended. This is by far the most common one, thanks to our country’s wonderful system who do their bit in promoting this. But this sure is a tricky one. One needs to make sure the person getting ridiculed is not humor-sensitive. Always prefer a happy-go-lucky chap who will eventually join you in and help you in making himself look stupid. If you are valiant enough, you might even choose yourself to be the laughing stock. Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu once shared his immense wisdom (very rare when he does that) and announced, “The most difficult thing is laughing at yourself. One who can do that can conquer all obstacles.” Profound words, I must say.
Hypocrisy also gives way to humor. The act of preaching something and doing the opposite yourself or criticizing a character for some fault that is an established part of your own characterization is found amusing by many. It makes the character ridicule himself in way, adding to the comical effect. It is frequently used in books as well as movies, along with other media. So far, my favorite remains Daffy Duck on Donald Duck in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: “This is the latht time I work with thomeone with a thpeech impediment!”
A bow of thanks to all these causes of humor and many others which work hard day and night without fail to enrich our lives with the much required laugh.