Wednesday, June 16, 2010

416. Humor for dummies

Being a Humorist, I should have done this long ago. It has taken me 416 entries to write a post on Humor. Humor is a term that makes everyone happy. Happiness is almost synonymous with Humor. Humor can induce sadness and irritation also, if it is not used in an appropriate manner. This post talks about the nuances in becoming a good Humorist.

What is Humor?
Humor is the ability to spread smiles in the hearts, minds and souls of people. Many would define humor in many ways. The operational definition of humor varies from person to person.Humor comprises three dependent variables namely
  1. Knowledge base
  2. Emotional balance
  3. Presentation

Knowledge base is nothing but the Cognitive experience of a person. The cognitive experience of a person is necessary to initiate the humor process. A good humorist should essentially have a broader knowledge base

Emotional balance is the driving force of Humor. After the content (Knowledge base) is formalised in the mind, the emotional balance of the person acts as a thrust in driving forth the content. Mirth (Joyous mood) is a very healthy emotional drive

Presentation is the execution component of humor. Even if a person has a very good percentage of the first two variables, but still lacks presentation skills, the humor form will not be effective. Hence presentation is the most important part of the humor process. Presentation is the only component where a physiological experience also takes place in addition to the psychological experience that takes place when the other two variables are in action.

Humor is a gameplay of the mind and it varies with place and time. Hence a joke that was not at all humorous when it happens , would appear to be humorous at a later point of time. Even sadness can take a humor form in future.

(eg - A person who is going through a tough phase in life when he loses his girlfriend will be extremely sad when he experiences that emotion. But at a later point in life, the same emotion would make him laugh)
Humor is a depiction of one's true colors. When we see someone slipping and falling down, 9 out of 10 times we would end up laughing at the situation. Our initial emotional reflexes are tuned to transmit happiness when someone gets hurt. Only if the injury is serious, then our emotions transmit other form of emotions such as sympathy,sadness,guilt.

Humor is often the experience of renegaded nature of humans. We often have a forbidden happiness when we break the rules. Back in my college days, when ever I broke a hostel rule or a college rule, my friends and I would laugh at it. Talking aloud in the library also brought out humor in us.

Humor is an enzyme that lives in every human being. Everyone uses it in different proportions. Everyone has it. But not everyone use it to the fullest. That differentiates the humorists from the rest.

What is meant by Sense of Humor?
It is the ability to relate to human emotions and act in a manner so that it makes everyone smile. A good humorist will be sensible to the psychological responses of his audience. How ever most humorists are not sensible to the emotions of people because their presentation style answers the question "What is Humorous?". A sensible humorist will always have a presentation style that answers the question " What do you experience as being Humorous?".

Laughter is often associated with Humor. But one need not laugh to experience humor.

As individuals we tend to experience humor by either "getting it" (which tends to be cognitive or intellectual response), by feeling it (which tends to be an emotional response), or by laughing at it (which is more of a physiological response). There is a wide range of life's experiences that are experienced as humorous. Like beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, humor is in the funny bone of the receiver of the experience - Dr. Steve

What are the different types of humor?

If you are an orkut user you would have come across words like dry humor, slapstick humor, straight humor, sarcastic humor, warped humor etc... I am not gonna explain all these different classifications of humor styles. You can easily google them and read about it.

When I hear the word " Types" of humor, only two things come to my mind
  1. Me - Humor
  2. You - Humor
When I make fun of myself , it is Me-Humor and When I make fun of others, it is You-Humor. It is very easy to be a You-humorist. Most of the stand up comedians fall under this type. But to be a ME-humorist, one has to have a very sound mind and should be very thick skinned.

Sarcasm is a major component of You- Humor. Personally I feel that sarcasm is not at all humor. It makes people laugh. But if that is done at the cost of hurting someone Else's ego, then it is better to avoid satire (sarcasm) form of humor. Hurting humor is very different from hearting (healthy) humor. Very few have mastered the hearting humor art form.

Let me give you some examples

  • Stand up comedians like Robin Williams, Russel Peters, Carlos Mencia fall under the You-Humorists category. They make fun of others mainly through racist jokes or through foul language ( cheap humor). They indeed have a good fan base because of their effective use of the third component of humor -"Presentation"
  • Comedians like Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), Rowan Atkinson (Mr.Bean), Wilbur Sargunaraj fall under the Me- Humorist. They make fun of themselves and that requires guts.

I am not concluding that Me-Humor form is better than You-Humor form. Even You-Humorists can be sensible to emotions. Personally I have experimented these two humor forms in my blog. I have bashed myself up in many of my posts. I have also bashed some public personalities in my blog.

The Tamil comedian Vadivel is an excellent user of the Me-Humor Type. He bashes himself in his movies. How ever the You-Humor exponent Vivek who was very popular in the early nineties soon found that he is losing ground against Vadivel and he too has started using Me-Humor in his latest movies (Padikadhavan).Gift of the gab is the best tool that can be used in both these types of humor. The Tamil actor Sandhaanam and anchor Sivakarthikeyan have this gift. If you want to improve your humor quotient, please watch "Whose line is it anyway"

When should I use humor?
  1. When another person uses humor with you. (Sensible humor)
  2. When the other person is comfortable with you.
  3. Situation is socially "appropriate. (Cracking a joke in a funeral will not be appropriate)
  4. Effective usage of Me-Humor with the incorporation of "Gift of the gab"
  5. When you use You-Humor , try to make fun of the situation and not the person
If I am humorous, won't people think that I am a Joker?
Let them think. Why do you care? Everyone has an opinion. Opinions are like Butt-holes. Everyone has one. Why do you care about someone Else's butt hole? Live your own life; but let your humor be sensible.

What is your opinion on Laughter Therapy?
Laughter therapy is gaining momentum through out the world as a major therapeutic exercise. But the sad point in laughter therapy is that it is disjointed humor. The cognitive function of the brain is not put to effective usage. People just gather in circles or in matrix form and laugh at regular intervals.I don't have a grudge against laughter therapy. But personally I feel that it is not a holistic humor form. Laughter therapy is just a mechanical exercise that psychologically kicks the heart rate of a person.

Humor is a spontaneous exercise that is planted inside the soul of every human being. It can never be triggered artificially


About the Author

Prason Christopher Robin (Chrony/Chriz) is a Humorist and a Humor Therapy expert and is the founder of the stream " Humor management ". He is a researcher, specializing in the field of management psychology. He is also a stand up comedian (In fact, he sits on a stool and cracks jokes. So it would be fitting to call him a sit-down comedian). He talks all the time and serves as a guest lecturer for Management Schools (Poor students). He is the CEO and CFO of Chronicwriter Incorporation.

* CEO = Chief entertainment Officer

* CFO= Chief Fun Officer.

Love letters can be forwarded to


  1. OMG is this a Me - Humor or a You -Humor that I am the first to comment . Nice insight into humor .I like being a me - humor guy , lot more comfortable with it .

  2. You must start some PhD course on Humor...

    Humor for dummies fromthe master himself

  3. Superb post, Chriz. Albeit technical in parts it was very stimulating to read through especially the discussions concerning "Me-humour" and "You-humour". And you know what thanks for putting my cult-god Rowan Atkinson in the "Me-humour" in that category. In fact, if my sparse attempts at humour can be "mistaken" as humour, lol, they belong to the "me" humour category too!!! :D :D :D :D

    "to be a ME-humorist, one has to have a very sound mind and should be very thick skinned." - a huge tick on that. Very, very true and all the Me-humorists you have mentioned, I believe, have it in abundance! :)

    aamaam adhellaam irukattum, idhu yedhukku: (:D ;))

    "eg - A person who is going through a tough phase in life when he loses his girlfriend will be extremely sad when he experiences that emotion. But at a later point in life, the same emotion would make him laugh)" hehehe! :D

    On the whole intriguing and enjoyable post!!!

  4. Now do u know, why I still laugh on your jokes:)

  5. @illusion : trying out different forms.. offlate am into the you-humor type.. will revert to the me humor type soon

    @Jon : would love to start a PhD course on humor.. i'll be the only student

    @Srini : Rowan is a class act indeed.. He has taken a leaf out of the Monty Python guys.. Have you seen John Cleese's humor?

    kadaisi paragraph - haha.. adhu enakku correctaa fit aaagum :)

    @Numerounity : haha :) thanks much

  6. humour doesnt equate to laughter. so true...

    if you've watched mozhi, you might find prakash raj's and prithvi raj's expressions to be a whole different take on humour. subtle, but very funny. i did anyway :p

    excellent post, chriz

  7. Brilliant post... Having sense of Humor is like GIFT !!!!!! :) :) Loving it :) :)

  8. Thala... no wonder yu are my guru... hope am gaining my humor grounds .... :) !.. this definitely helps .. but hav yu noticed something? I have.. all over the blogsville... there seem to be very very less humorists, instead its full of ranting, pain of love, the maximum being BLAME THE MEDIA,POLITICIANS...ipadi apadi... no humor, or blokes like yu... :)!


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