WE all have a friend who is just naturally funnier than everyone else. Someone who, for whatever reason, is able to get people to laugh at what they say. They see the funny in the world and are able to express it instantly and effortlessly, reading invisible signals we give off as to what we will find funny, what we are in the mood for, and what we will not enjoy. We all wish to be these people.
There are also people who will ‘laugh at anything’! Comedians love these guys. They are willing to allow themselves to be taken to a funny place with the minimal of effort. Who wouldn’t want to be around this person?
And there are also those who will laugh at nothing. And I am not talking about Germans. I mean the people who love to be serious, are worried about giving offence, constantly offended, and unable to see things in new ways. What downers these guys are. Make for good middle-managers though.
What makes someone funny and someone else not, what gives someone a broad sense of humour while others laugh at nothing, likely has its roots in our earliest childhood. Most children laugh at the peek-a-boo surprise of a face revealed from behind swinging-door hands. But senses of humour quickly develop in different directions based on the stimulus around the child. Children, who are rewarded with love, affection, and cookies for their silly behaviour, are more likely to develop a talent for acquiring cookies through humour. A laugh is a show of appreciation and affection. The child that discovers his or her ability to make others laugh early on will likely be hooked. It can be a very addicting drug to get hooked on.
On the other hand, children, who are chastised for their silliness, will quickly learn (erroneously) that this behaviour will not get them what they want. Parents need to avoid this rebuking, and children need to ignore it. My father once told me, “No one likes a smart-ass!” Fortunately, I ignored him and I have been making a living at being a smart-ass ever since. Humour got me out of fights at school, got me the attention of girls, overwhelmed my exhausted teachers, and reaped the giggles of my mother. There was no way I would be stopping.
Pity the ones who learned too late in life that humour will not only get you cookies, it will get you the job you want, get you laid, and get you out of lots and lots of trouble. These are the ones who decided too late that it was something they needed to develop, and became those unenviable creatures who try to be funny, and fail. If you ain’t funny now, you never will be. So please, for the rest of us: stop trying! I can’t fake the laugh any more.