Here’s the thing. Humor – it is extremely subjective. It is. Just like opinions, some people agree with some opinions while others disagree with those opinions. Humor works the same way. A joke can be “good” here while “bad” there. It all is dependent on the context of the joke. Context is king. Regardless if a joke is good or bad, there are times where it should not be said. That’s, like, humor + common sense rule #1. You wouldn’t (or rather you shouldn’t) make a joke about 9/11 on 9/12. Hell, depending on who you are or who your audience is, you wouldn’t even make a 9/11 joke today. Before I lose my trail of thought, my introductory point to this post is this: Humor is subjective and context is king.
Now that I’ve clarified that, I want to talk about something that I strongly believe ruins humor regardless of context and subjectivity: The imbalance of sensitivity. Look, fair warning, this post is going conclude with the same argument you’ve heard before, find a balance. Going to either extreme is not good, etc. etc. While that is true, it’s not the whole point. Stick with me, read on, and hear me get frustrated as douchebags who ruin humor.
The Imbalance of Sensitivity
Oversensitivity of the Audience
One of the things that frustrates me is when people are oversensitive. I find it silly, unnecessary, and honestly, extremely annoying. When people are oversensitive anybody who is around them are forced to walk on eggshells. Anything I say could offend them. It’s ridiculous. These are the people who want to be so politically correct that a normal human being can’t finish a simple sentence without offending one of them. These are the people who chastises you when you describe your black friend as, “black.” These folks are the reason why great comics like Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy, or Jerry Seinfeld don’t perform on college campuses. These oversensitive weaklings are incapable of a hearing a joke in the context of what it is said in and enjoy the content of what was delivered. Yes, I called them weaklings. Because that’s what it is. If I am incapable of hearing a statement in the context that it was given, i.e. a joke and I am incapable of leaving it there – that makes me weak. In the head. In other words, unintelligent. Look, I’m not saying that you have to laugh at the joke you don’t find funny. This goes back to humor being subjective. When you don’t find something funny, which in and of itself is fine, but ruin it for anyone else by making a huge stink of it – that’s what I take issue with. You do not have to ruin the experience for someone else if you don’t like the experience yourself. Doing so is extremely selfish. We shouldn’t be denied a laugh because you don’t enjoy a joke.
Insensitivity of the Comic
At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, this part of the post is aiming at those making the jokes that people tend to be offended by.
Context is king. Understand that. For a comic to be successful, they have to understand the context of their situation. I believe that every joke has a context that it fits in. Whether that context is appropriate or not, that’s a different conversation. For example, black people jokes. I personally hate those jokes (admittedly, I’ve laughed at a few in the past but thankfully my humor is maturing). Black people jokes probably will not (should not) be acceptable in a civilized setting. However, I’d wager that those jokes would go over well in a Klan meeting. Context is king. What pisses me off about some comics, is their choice to make a joke (assume black people jokes) for no other reason, than thinking it might get a laugh because of its offensiveness. Trying to be humorous at the cost of intentionally offending someone, i.e. intentionally being insensitive, that degrades humor I take more of an issue with the corruption of something good (humor) than people trying to stop me from engaging in it.
I recently had someone make a joke about a baby “going to sleep and never wake up.” That statement was followed by laughter. For the first time in as long as I can remember I actually asked someone why they thought a joke was funny. I didn’t get an answer, but the following questions have been plaguing me since:
Do you really think that joke was funny? Would you say that same statement if the parents of the child was in the room? If not, why is it appropriate now? It’s okay now because the parents weren’t there to hear the joke? No, the “context is king” argument doesn’t work here – because you’re joking about a baby dying and there is no place for that type of humor in a civilized setting.
Maybe these comics like being the type of comics that enjoy being the douchebag. Their laugh comes from spoiling things for others. That’s their play. If that’s the case every joke, inappropriate or not, will be “in context” for them. I don’t know about you, but these people don’t deserve our laughter. These people are ruining something good. Humor is good for enjoying a good laugh. Humor is good for social commentary. Humor is good, period. Don’t let cold hearted, insensitive dirtbags corrupt it because they are incapable of engaging in humor that doesn’t step on other people.