Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing. – Mark Twain
What does that mean?
To me, it means that the ability to laugh is the best part of being human, the big difference between humans and all the other creatures of the earth. It is a great way to relieve stress, unless you take it personally. I would imagine most of you have had a great laugh at sometime in your life, and can appreciate how good it helped you to feel.
I would also imagine that most of you have also felt the other edge of the sword of humor; when you were the butt of the joke, or your ox was being gored (follow the link if you need a hint). This double edged-ness (if that is a word) is also used by some comedians at “roasts” or as their shtick (Don Rickles, for example). This should also caution us in our attempts to use of “humor”.
Why is laughter important?
C’mon, don’t make me laugh! While I don’t know anyone who has died of not laughing, I can’t imagine their life would have been worse if they had cracked a smile a few more times. I’ll admit that there are times when one should be serious and not be jovial, but that changes from person to person, and from group to group.
Depending on the type of people, some are very somber at funerals as they remember their loss, others take the time instead to celebrate the joys of the life of deceased. So when should you laugh? I’d say as often as appropriate.
We’ve all heard the nervous laughter that was so out of place, so don’t be that person. But, in social gatherings, some laughter is usually appropriate. Even jokes at the expense of someone else may be appropriate – the opposing sports team, for example. Those of us who root for the Chicago Cubs know how to make a joke at our own expense, and to take (in good nature, I hope) the jokes others send our way.
Laughter, to me, goes hand-in-hand with happiness. Sometimes (according to my wife) I crack too many jokes. She also doesn’t always appreciate that the kids are picking up my sense of humor (or complete lack thereof). So, to me, it’s very important. It’s part of my core. How about you? How important is laughter to you?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Please note that this isn’t going to be a guide to stand-up comedy. I don’t do that. Not on purpose, at least. However, I’ll try to lay out some guidelines that have worked for me.
First, know who you are with. When I was young, ethnic jokes were popular, and my Grandfather knew all of them. Then one day, I told one of his jokes to some friends. I didn’t know one had Polish roots. He didn’t think it was funny at all, and I learned a lesson. We still tell those same jokes today, they’ve just been renamed as “blond” jokes.
Second, know where you are. Even if you are with friends and know what they think is funny, someone who is nearby might overhear it and take offense. Realize that, like it or not, there are many people who are on the prowl, just looking for a chance to be offended and play victim. Others do the same in an attempt to start a fight. It is both sad and stifling, to be sure, but that is the reality in today climate of “Political Correctness.”
Third, start out easy. Don’t try a Shaggy Dog Story (a long involved story/joke) as your first joke. If you’re new to a group, let the others take the lead and show you by example what is appropriate for the group. Then, as you get a little more comfortable, start with one liners or other short jokes.
Fourth, be yourself. It’s really hard to be funny when you’re not yourself (unless you’re doing an impersonation, of course). Be natural and not a phony. Phony is not funny, unless you’re making fun of yourself.
Fifth, what is your style? For me, I like to mangle words and to deliberately misunderstand people (by responding as if they what they said had used a homonym). And puns, I really like puns. But be aware of who you are with, as some don’t consider puns to be humor, but an affront to all sane people.
Finally, loosen up. Relax and laugh with others. You don’t have to be the one who is always telling the jokes. And be kind to others and their attempts at humor. You’re not the only beginner out there.
As Readers Digest says, “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Live long, with laughter. (sorry Mr Spock!)
From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain163704.html
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