Will You Be Laughing Alone?

The following article was written by Praeh (G9).

Have you noticed that you and your classmates tend to laugh at the same jokes? Maybe it’s because people with the same age laugh at the same things. Although, to be fair, I’m sure you’ve had cases where you end up laughing alone and other people turn to look at you with an expressionless face. Not fun. Some say that adults would laugh a lot less than children or teenagers, while some research has shown that older people tend to enjoy humour a lot more – when they understand it that is. Maybe humour preference depends on gender, or culture. So I conducted a survey to find out. Will your age, gender, and culture affects the type of humour you like? Is humour personal, or the same for certain groups of people? Let’s find out! Because no one really wants to be the only one laughing; unless you’re in a room alone at night, then let’s just hope you’re laughing alone.


Fig 1. Trowbridge, Cecily. “Benedict Cumberbatch Does the Best Otter Impression You’ve Ever Seen.”


Before going into the factors of humour preference, let’s first go into the scientifically proven theories as to what makes things funny. They are fittingly named… The Three Humour Theories! The first theory is Incongruity theory which is the theory that the unexpected is humorous (Brain). “I can’t wait to fail this exam!” is an understatement as well as irony. Those aren’t the words you expect since people don’t generally want to fail. But then, your brain is tricked again after realising the tone doesn’t match with what the words actually mean. The next theory has to do with violence or unequal power: the superiority-inferiority theory. Not gonna lie, I agree that as painful as other’s fails seem, it is still one of the most enjoyable humour types. That’s why those fail compilations, prank videos, or memes are so funny. They have aspects of slapstick or satire, which are all part of the superiority theory. Last but not least, the relief theory. Take horror movies as an example. They build up the suspense until you unconsciously stop breathing, then when they turn around the corner you find something like a chicken. That’s when you feel the relief and start to breathe properly again.

In my survey, I had three humour texts linking to one of these theories. The first is the infamous ‘Benedict Otterbatch’ (see Fig. 1) which is a comparison between the celebrity and an otter. This uses the incongruity theory where you probably wouldn’t expect a human to be compared to an otter. The tumblr blog post about screaming in concerts that’s really just too real. Using the superiority theory with satire by mocking others. Lastly, is a prank video on YouTUBE (FouseyTUBE). Which is a slapstick as part of superiority where the pranker has control over the victim. These are the proven theories that if used, would definitely make the majority of the world laugh.


FouseyTUBE. “Mortal Kombat Elevator Prank!”


So what are the different factors that affect humour preference? Let’s first take a look at age. Age has a huge effect on various aspects of your life, which seems quite obvious. The results from the survey I conducted showed that older people ended up enjoying all the humour texts the most. So what they said is true! Once they understand the text, they actually laugh the most! Teens did enjoy superiority the most which is what most researchers would agree with (Khazan). I would agree as well, because as horrible as it would feel if I were in their place, it’s funny to see them that way. But, the eldest group also enjoyed superiority most, which goes to show, it really doesn’t matter what age you are, you’d still enjoy seeing others fail. Surprisingly, the young adults were different, they enjoyed satire, with a way of mocking without physical violence. It is also cool to see that the youngest reacted the least, but when they did react, they were very extreme with it. As for gender, females were actually much more reactive than the males. Maybe because I am also a female, we enjoy the same kind of humour? Not only that, females enjoyed the prank video slightly more, supported by the reasoning that they only liked it better because the victim of the prank was a male. Last aspect is cultural background! This had an underwhelming effect. It seemed like Asians enjoyed the most violence, but then after that, there was no pattern to it at all. What about you? Did these apply to you? Do you enjoy the same things as those within your age or gender group?

It is safe to say that age and gender are very impactful in terms of humour preference. Kids and adults do react differently and prefer different jokes. You would enjoy a different kind of humour than your parents do. You and someone from the opposite gender would laugh at different things. However, your culture might not affect your humour as much. Humour is definitely not completely personal. The same groups of people whether it’d be age or gender would most likely enjoy the same things. So, lucky for you, you will most likely not be the only one laughing at a joke.

Works Cited

Brain, Marshall. “How Laughter Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 1 Apr. 2000, science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/laughter.htm. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.

fouseyTUBE. “Mortal Kombat Elevator Prank!” Online video. YouTube, YouTube, 14 Sept. 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

“Funny Tumblr Posts.” Pinterest, Pinterest, http://www.pinterest.com/RandomFandoms8/funny-tumblr-posts/. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

“Gender Differences in Humor Appreciation.” ResearchGate, ResearchGate, Sept. 1988, http://www.researchgate.net/publication/249929338_Gender_differences_in_humor_appreciation. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

Khazan, Olga. “Sense of Humor Changes With Age.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 30 Sept. 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/our-sense-of-humor-changes-as-we-age/380954/. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

Trowbridge, Cecily. “Benedict Cumberbatch Does the Best Otter Impression You’ve Ever Seen.” Zimbio, Livingly Media, Inc., 28 Nov. 2015, http://www.zimbio.com/For+The+Win/articles/T2bbhMGlhRp/Benedict+Cumberbatch+Best+Otter+Impression. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.

White, Lawrence T. “What’s Funny?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 May 2012, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culture-conscious/201205/whats-funny. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.


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