“Good humor is the sunshine of the mind.” – Edward G Bulwer-Lytton
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What’s your favorite response to a bone-tickling joke or a hilarious meme? Do you kick it millennial style with multiple crying-laughing emojis or are you more of a Gen-Z baby with a ‘ded’ skull face emoji response? Whatever your style, the one thing that you can’t deny is the ability of humor to serve up laughs and pull people closer together.
Humor has long since been used as a tool to share funny stories or inject some laughter into otherwise serious anecdotes. There are tons of movies and binge-worthy TV sitcoms based on humor that enjoy widespread popularity. And let’s be honest, If someone asked you to list out desirable qualities in your ideal partner, a good sense of humor would probably be at the top of that list, right? After all, everybody enjoys a good laugh.
You may have heard that laughter is infectious. And maybe even experienced it for yourself. Well, let’s find out why that is so.
Why Is Humor So Infectious?
Have you ever laughed more at someone’s laugh than their joke? Because same. Well, there’s an anthropological study that suggests laughter and humor are built-in genetically in humans. Historically, humor has existed as a social glue to strengthen personal bonds, even before humans learned to speak! Medically speaking, laughter is truly contagious as the sound of laughter triggers a response in our brain and that in turn leads to those uncontrollable bouts of giggles.
In a time when we are slowly getting out of a global pandemic, laughter is the best medicine we could have, after being confined to the indoors for so long. Laughter also has a host of other benefits on our health. It can enhance our oxygen intake, giving a boost to our lungs, heart, and muscles. A good laugh releases endorphins and boosts the immune system. It also reduces stress by relieving tension. Laughter can increase productivity and even decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety!
In fact, a study by doctors at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine showed that laughter has a very positive impact on heart health. That certainly puts the ‘heart’ in hearty laughter!
Well, now you know that the saying “laughter is contagious” holds true. Let’s explore the tool that brings laughter into our lives!
What Are the Different Styles of Humor?
Ever wonder why you were so appalled by your date’s sense of humor? Or why don’t your dad’s jokes elicit the raucous laughter he expects from you and your siblings? Because humor comes in many different forms. But thankfully, we live in an internet era of abundance, and there’s something out there that appeals to each one of us. While there are some really nuanced and niche varieties of humor out there, let’s take a look at some of the more prevalent ones today:
This style of humor heavily depends on physicality. Think pranks and gags or someone slipping on a banana peel. Shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos or The Kapil Sharma Show are a perfect representation of this subgenre.
Often referred to as surreal humor, this subgenre uses bizarre and inexplicable situations that are so unlikely that they are funny. Monty Python, a British surreal comedy troupe, is a legend in surreal comedy.
Most comedians tap into their flaws and make us laugh by becoming the butt of the joke themselves. It’s one of the most universal styles in comedy and never fails to get laughs. Jim Gaffigan and John Mulaney are some of the comedians that do it really well.
The skills required for this style of comedy are off the charts. Imagine you’re suddenly thrust onto a stage with a mic and asked to relay jokes to a full audience. Scary right? Yet there are amazing comedians like Kaneez Surka who thrive on improv comedy. There are even shows like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ which challenge comedians to show off their improv and comic skills.
Clever and cunning comedians like Milton Jones and Jimmy Carr can have you ROFL with their wit and zesty one-liners. This style also encompasses puns (both intended and unintended), dad jokes, and such.
Former US President Barack Obama had us gobbling for more with these turkey special jokes.
This style draws inspiration from current events and presents funny takes on the daily news. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and NBC’s Saturday Night Live are the best examples of topical comedy. These shows often feature hot takes on current affairs by celeb guests.
The majority of stand-up comedians rely on everyday observations to build their material. This style is called observational comedy. Most people relate to this style as it speaks about everyday quirks common to most of us.
Although popular on websites like 9Gag and Reddit, this style of comedy is not for everyone. The underlying themes used to set up dark jokes are usually depressing and taboo. There’s also a fine line between making an audience laugh or offending them. Comedians like Sam Morril skillfully tread that line while making us laugh! And then there’s Ricky Gervais who always gets the laugh out of us even if it’s after a massive collective cringe.
Well, that sums up the styles of comedy we usually see. Let’s look at humor and its evolution in the age of social media.
Social Media and Humor
When it comes to humor and social media, your mind might automatically jump to memes. While there’s no denying the appeal that memes have for sharing a laugh, let’s wind back time a little and find out how humor has evolved in the internet era.
The onset of the digital age coupled with internet accessibility made a huge impact on humor. It was no longer relegated to joke books, bits in magazines, or narration. Humor became an intrinsic part of a larger participatory culture. This continues to this day.
Say you stumbled on something really funny online, how would you share it with a pal? Chances are you’ll dm them, share it on their wall or simply tag them in the comment section of the original post. Content with humor is more shareable, it is more memorable and it is the most relatable!
It has been over a century since the first meme was published in a satirical magazine in 1921. Fast forward to today and we have many sites dedicated solely to the purpose of creating and sharing memes. 9Gag is a social site that is almost synonymous with memes. Not only are there millions of memes for every style of comedy, but memes have actually transcended the simple image with text format.
Combination memes feature two distinctly different viral images combined together to tell a joke. And some of these are so famous, we can’t imagine the original pictures are unrelated to each other. We know you’re thinking about the lady screaming at the cat. LOL. Even without any text or context that brings a laugh out of us. Or how about the one with a daughter tearfully explaining something to her bewildered mother? Believe it or not, those two are not even related to one another! And that’s what we have on memes bringing people together. JK, we have a lot more, keep reading. 😀
Humor and Short Videos
While memes will be evergreen, the landscape of social media today is changing with the rise of short video apps. And thanks to this, we see waves of funny videos doing the rounds. It all started back in 2012 with Vine, a short video-sharing app, that allowed creators to make tiny 6-second videos.
Creativity bloomed on the app with creators flocking to make hilarious ‘Vines’ that took the world by storm. These were so funny and popular that they were quickly compiled into hour-long compilations and shared on YouTube!
Today, we have a barrage of short video apps flooding the market. Apps like Tiktok and Rizzle foster creativity and ingenuity from millions of users. There are so many hilarious trends that start on these apps and slowly make their way into the collective social media space.
Humor in the Pandemic
Memes are hilarious and oh-so-relatable. Perhaps that’s why they go viral so easily. And during a global pandemic, memes were the only kind of ‘viral’ that were acceptable. Too soon? We’re sorry! But there’s no denying that humor really kept us going through the many months of uncertainty while stuck indoors.
We could no longer go to live comedy shows. But many comedians leveraged social media and brought us laughs from our phone screens. They shared clips from old sets and held live sessions. When comedians Taylor Tomlinson and Sam Morril found themselves quarantined together in LA at the start of the pandemic and started a podcast! Talk about getting lemons and making lemonade!
Other comedy creators also took this time to make funny content that kept us going through bleak times. The pandemic is slowly receding, and with that life is shifting back to a new normal. But humor will always be a part of our life. And boy, are we grateful for the laughs!
Humor has had an impact on social media and vice versa. As social media continues to evolve, we’re looking forward to seeing how humor will present itself in the future.
What’s the best joke you’ve heard? Write it in the comments below and we’ll rate it!