Good Humour

I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
but it keeps them on the knife.

Please ptell me Pterodactyl, who ptaught you how pto fly?

Good humour, wit, laughter, riddles, puns, absurdities, clowning, zany ideas and jokes with surprises in them help to make life funnier and survival bearable. Humour gives you a sense of perspective about your own problems. Laughing can help you to feel happier.

But there can be stupid humour too.

  • Bully humour, in which people laugh with the bully, who has the last word and the punch-line in the comic strip. This encourages bullying in real life too, giving bullies lines to justify their torture and persecution. In good humour it is the little battler who has the last word and the punch-line.
  • Practical jokes can be funny and clever, when everyone concerned finds them funny. Theodore Hook once had a party where every third person had food that was made of uncuttable flannel or plaster, yet their neighbors seemed to be eating with pleasure. The joke was not prolonged, so everyone was able to laugh as real food was supplied. The criterion for a practical joke that is stupid is when the victim cries, "That's not funny!"
  • When the study of humour is made too serious a business. Today you can go to conferences and read learned journals just about humour. There are probably Professors of Humour who do not make jokes; they just analyse them.
  • Claiming that all jokes are at bottom about sex or violence. This is nonsense but hardly funny nonsense. Yet there are books of research claiming this, because their scope is too narrow and usually contemporary and culture-bound.
  • When satire and other humour with a message raise laughs but no action. Erasmus wrote the Ship of Fools - "Marvellous!" said the Renaissance readers, who went on being foolish. Jonathan Swift wrote about Gulliver's Travels, satirising how stupid human behaviour can be about nationalism, war, government, religion, science and life-style - and people give the book to their children.

I hope readers can laugh at these Web-Pages - but I hope each reader can also do something about one at least of all the stupid things that need to be changed.