Someone posted a you tube clip on my Facebook wall the other day. I could not help myself. I laughed until the tears were streaming down my face. I asked my husband to watch it. His mouth slightly twitched but he was largely unmoved.
“Didn’t you find that funny?” I asked, incredulous that he had remained almost straight-faced.
“Mildly” was his reply. He went on to explain to me that I had an Australian sense of humour and laughing at pain and other discomforts humans experienced was a large part of the Australian humour psyche.
It set me thinking about humour. British humour is quite different to American humour. I recalled that many of my friends did not like my husband, because of his sense of humour, until they got to know him. They thought he was being “nasty” to me. I also recalled that some Scottish friends said after a night out with us “…. it was so good to have someone else who understands our humour.” I would say that British humour is very much self-deprecating, sarcastic and taking the piss, usually cleverly with words with understated actions. When I started going out with my husband he used to complain that I did not tease him, pull him up on his shortcomings. He reads the Guardian and rolls around laughing; when he reads the article to me I often don’t see what he’s laughing at.
American humour seems much more upfront and politically correct. I often feel I am being told what I am to laugh at in television programmes. Humour often revolves around those accidental trip ups, minor accidents. Not quite slapstick but on that side of things. Mind you Seinfeld and Frasier I found truly funny.
So where does Australian humour fit? Somewhere between? Perhaps there are many different types depending on your heritage. My father was a minister with a great sense of humour. He taught me that only the insecure can’t laugh at jokes about themselves and things they believe in. (I’m sure he would draw the line at some jokes). There was no political correctness in our household.
In the Scientific American http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ask-the-brains-why-do-we-laugh William F Fry gives three scientific reasons for laughing when someone hurts themselves. Briefly they are:
1) it is in a play frame and there are no serious consequences come from it.
2) that it is unexpected in the context.
3) that our neurons illicit a mirror-like response which makes it funny.
So why didn’t my husband laugh? Surely it must be due to where his sense of humour came from. Or do I just laugh easily? Did you find the video funny?
“laugh and the world laughs with you”
(the challenge stated we had to have images and it seems I am the only person that laughs and has their photo taken.)