Sense of Humor Essay
Humor is descried as the mental ability or tendency to make someone laugh or be amused. It is universal and all people regardless of age, ability or race respond to it. People who easily respond to provocation of laughter are considered to have a good sense of humor.
A sense of humor is described as a measure of one’s tendency to experience humor. The extent of an individual’s amusement depends on a number of variables such as culture, age, intelligence, education, maturity or even geographical location. Adults and children may for example derive amusement from very different things; children may find cartoons and clowns more amusing than ‘stand up’ comedy for example while educated adults may find comedy highly entertaining. Satire is more particular because it is based upon a proper understanding of the target of the humor and may only be interesting and entertaining to a mature and probably educated audience.
As expected, humor varies widely in terms of acceptance depending on the above mentioned demographics. Comedy and humor have been used since time immemorial as a form of entertainment in both casual and official settings including courts and tribunals. Intelligence and wit are sometimes displayed using means that bring out humor in satire and comedy.
Often, the sense of humor is looked as beauty and it’s therefore safe to say that ‘how much sense of humor one has lies in the eyes of the beholder’; one person may find another to have a great sense of humor while another could find the same personal overly obnoxious. Based on this, some people argue that you only find someone to have a great sense of humor if your senses of humor are similar or agree.
Humor can be used in many disciplines including education, medicine and even political science. Young children are taught new things and ideas using humor and repetition. A good example is Teletabies; a children’s show where cartoon characters are used to teach children while entertaining them with some humor. This has proved a successful means of teaching as they children are actively involved in the learning while having fun at the same time.
Humor can also be a means of stress relieve and relaxation. Scientists say that a simple happy gesture like a smile goes a long way in ensuring sound mental and even physical health. A good afternoon of laughter while watching a family sitcom is said to be enough to rejuvenate the body and improve mental health (Mikisi, 2005).
Politicians with a good sense of humors have historically been successful in pulling large crowds and using their wit to woo the many present voters. A simple political statement put in a humorous way is more likely to be spread further, by word of mouth or otherwise, while a flat statement will likely leave no memories at all. The same tactic is used by preachers and priests to pull crowds and make activates that are otherwise considered boring lively and fun.
The sense of humor is therefore very important in everyone’s day to day life even if just for happiness, joy and mental well being.
Mikisi, K. (2005).The art of laughter. Nairobi: Macmillan Publishers.
The Impact of Fun and Humor in the Workplace on Employee Morale and Performance Cause and Effect Essay
Although it has always been known that laughter can lower stress levels and provide several other benefits, it is generally believed that kidding around and having some laughter in the workplace is not helpful at all with regards to employee performance and the general welfare of the organization.
However, numerous studies into this issue have come up with findings that show that laughter plays a very important role in boosting employee morale and performance. It is very important to be friendly and in a positive state of mind to achieve better results. So, it goes without saying, that humor plays an essential role in this matter.
Indeed, a study sponsored by an international temporary service agency made similar findings. It found that American executives believe that persons with a sense of humor perform their jobs better than those with little or no sense of humor. In fact, a massive 96 per cent of those interviewed said employees with a sense of humor performed better.
Fun and humor have been found to be beneficial to the human spirit as well the body. But can we extend this fun and humor to the workplace, traditionally associated with serious-looking fellows who seem to deeply engrossed in their work? Thankfully, the answer is positive.
Just as the old saying goes, laughter is truly a medicine that can help reduce stress levels among employees, boost employee confidence and morale, enhances cooperation among employees and teams, and perhaps even prevents burnout at work. Some people worry sometimes that they may have problems at the working places cracking jokes and using humor at working time.
It is a big mistake to think like this. There is a range of advantages of using humor at working place that is shown in high results of increasing productivity of working, reducing of stress and improving interpersonal relationships (McFadzean & McFadzean, 2005, pp. 319).
Unfortunately, fun and humor also have the potential to create a more hostile work environment that can result into lawsuits, all which may make the workplace a more stressful place to be in.
Benefits for Workers
Today, workplace stress is one of the greatest enemies to the success of employees. Stress can make employees depressed, irritable, and less productive. However, the cure to workplace stress is cheap and very effective: humor and fun. In their study of the role of humor in the workplace, Ford, McLaughlin and Newstrom (2003, pp. 21) report that those employees who are in a positive state of mind have less problems and troubles at their working places and, have corresponding friendly relations with their colleagues and bosses.
It is proved once again by the idea, that it is very important to control one’s emotions and to think positively, do careful analyzes of the actions and do not everything close to heart.
Fostering laughter is one of the forms of humor that may take place at the working place. Nevertheless, one should not forget that it is important to know the right time for humor as it is not always suitable for the hardworking times when it is plenty to do. A high productivity of the working progress also depends on the interpersonal relationships of the colleques.
It would be a nice idea to create different types of going out with the colleques, picnics, parties, dinners, etc. It goes without saying that the mood is better, the emotional state and the working progress are better when one feels comfortable in the company, both formal and private-personal (Hudson, 2001, pp. 49; Meyer, 1999, pp. 15).
Hudson (2001) wrote about the significance of creating and encouraging a fun and friendly atmosphere in the workplace, which happened to be her company: The Brady Corporation. This corporation had a very tight structure that did not even allow staff to have coffee at their desk until 1989. When Miss Hudson took over as the CEO, she immediately sought to reverse this tradition and implement fun in the workplace.
In the 1996 season, the Green Bay Packers football club was looking forward to a promising start to the season. Ms. Hudson fount a very creative and unique approach to present his organization by making his people wear the same green costumes to perform for the television.
It was very fascinating to see how the staff was excited telling and sharing funny stories, anecdotes and various jokes, wearing funny glasses and Mickey Mouse ears. It has been already mentioned above, the one of the most important things in the rapid development of interpersonal relationships at work is mutual understanding and the feeling of comfort in the presence of each other.
The example of such situation was portrayed by the Brady Corporation that organized a meeting out of working time and place, in informal setting. After the fun program became part of the organization, sales doubled while profits tripled. This illustration proves that fun and humor are indeed important in boosting employee morale and, consequently, their performance.
A second way in which laughter helps to reduce stress levels in employees can be explained biologically. The say that the level of stress is reduced and the sense of being alert increases when a person is laughing. So, it is possible to say that laughter is a good medicine, especially for a blood pressure.
Published studies by Dr. Lee Bark and Dr. Stanley Tan show that laughter improves a general state of a person from the physical and emotional points of view, generates hormones for a person to have a good spirit and even makes one’s life longer as it is reckoned to be an essential part of a healthy life that can even be compared to going for sports.
Obviously, nowadays almost everybody knows about endorphins that are generated in the process of laughing and work as good painkillers for a person. In addition, when employees are of good health, absentee rates and sick leaves are lower, leading to improved performance.
Since laughter is aerobic, that is, it requires oxygen,it provides a workout for the diaphragm and increases the volume of oxygen entering the body. This increases a person’s energy levels, relaxes the muscles, and makes the immune system stronger. Humor and fun can make a person think exhibit more creativity than one who does not laugh frequently.
This can come in handy in workplace situations, for instance, when an employee is stuck on a problem, a good laugh can get rid of the problem and allow such employees to look for other avenues into the problem through a more positive outlook. A research undertaken by psychologist Dr. Ashton Trice at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia found that humor makes us think. When we are stuck on important tasks, we normally feel angry, dejected and/or depressed. This change in mood can interfere with consequent tasks.
Dr. Trice’s research recommends that taking time to have some humorous moment can help in eliminating the negative feelings, allowing us to return to a project or move onto another one unaffected by past setbacks. In the case of an employee, laughter and fun can help in handling tricky and challenging projects as they are able to look at the tasks or projects from different angles and perspectives.
It through some breakthroughs that employee morale is boosted (Ramsey, 1997, pp. 7). Employee morale is also boosted by reduced stress levels, good communication among employees, and teamwork. Coincidentally, fun and laughter at the workplace can lead to all of these elements of employee morale (Ramsey, 1997, pp. 7).
Benefit to the Organization
The benefits of a workforce whose morale is high cannot be overstated. Since fun and humor at the workplace lead to happiness and contentment, then a workforce that is encouraged to share jokes and regularly engages in fun activities is bound to have a very high morale. This has a very significant contribution towards the success of the organization as occurred in the Brady Corporation.
When workers area happy, they become more productive. When one has a good sense of humor and knows how to use it at the right place and time, the working place turns out to be a nice and funny place to work in. Consequently, this makes staff more passionate about their jobs and boosts their performance.
Fun and laughter can also improve communication at the workplace. A well-placed joke can help a worker get a serious point across at a meeting without necessarily appearing or talking ‘hard’. A joke can also make a positive criticism of a fellow employee or superiors appear light and not create any tension as would be the case in a humorless meeting. Humor can also be important when handling customers or when the employee is admitting his/her own mistakes.
However, one should be careful in using humor jokes towards other people as a personal address as those people may not have such viewpoints and there may be a great misunderstanding. Despite this fact, humor makes lets people feel comfortable and feel free to contact you in case of any questions, both formal and informal, that is very important.
When used in the right manner, humor shows other people that the ‘human’ side of the employee and makes it easier to others to approach the employee for ideas, questions and advice. Such an employee seems friendlier and approachable and if every employee integrates humor in their relations with customers, sale volumes and profitability will no doubt multiply. Indeed, humor can be used a customer relations tool!
Whether it is telling jokes during tea or lunch breaks or putting a grey flamingo sculpture next to the cash register to get a smile every time a customer has his/her shopping totaled up, fun and humor help to build relationships at the workplace stronger.
When people laugh together, a natural bond is created between them, be it with peers, superiors or with customers. When workers feel comfortable towards each other, have trust and understanding, it is easier to build good relations based on the problem solving basis, what is more difficult to do when there is a constant pressure and just reigning formal relations.
Occasional humor among peers also promotes department cohesiveness and improves overall performance (Robert & Yan, 2007, 210). This later statement was a conclusion made by Robert & Yan after thoroughly analyzing theories on humor and incorporating literature from numerous disciplines touching on the subject.
Humor also helps lighten up work-related tensions. During times of high stress, humor can become very important. It allows every person to take a step back, relax, and return to their workstations with a renewed vigor that keeps them going until the task is completed. When tensions between two or more staff members run high, laughter can diffuse the situation, and provide the crucial cooling off duration before finding an amicable solution.
In general, it stands to reason already that people who feel free towards each other at working place achieve big result and succeed more that those who live and work in strongly set measure and rules where each step is bounded with a corresponding norm and rule.
The Dos and Don’ts of Workplace Fun and Humor
Although humor is a very important tool in enhancing employee morale and increasing their performance, inappropriate jokes and comments will do just the reverse. It should not be forgotten that one people’s jokes may sound offensive to another people, so, one should think twice before joking with people whom he/she hardly knows.
Therefore, employees must refrain from telling certain kinds of jokes. For instance, telling jokes about a person’s appearance, religion, ethnic background, or sexuality may not be welcome, similarly, jokes on controversial topics such as death, physical disabilities, and sexual harassment or racial inequalities should be avoided at all costs.
Although political jokes are common, a person must first know his/her audience, and avoid sharing political jokes that may offend someone of different political ideology. Lastly, in case of uncertainty on how the joke will be received, then it is best not to say it at all.
Hudson, K. M. (2001). Transforming a conservative company – one laugh at a time. Harvard Business Review, 79(7), 45-53.
Ford, R., McLaughlin,F., and Newstrom,J. (2003). Questions and answers about fun at work, Human Resource Planning, 26(4), 18-33.
McFadzean, F., &McFadzean, E. (2005). Riding the emotional roller-coaster: a framework for improving nursing morale. Journal of HealthOrganization & Management, 19(4/5), 318-339
Meyer, H. (1999). Fun for everyone.Journal of Business Strategy, 20(2), 13-17.
Ramsey, R. D. (1997). Employee morale: does it matter anymore. Supervision, 58(9), 6-8.
Robert, C., and Yan, W. (2007).The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 26, 205-267.
Humor in “The Cask of Amontillado” Horror Story by Allan Poe Essay
The use of horror and humor in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the literary features that the author uses to constructs the story. Poe is a manipulative author who uses linguistic techniques with so much ease and combines them with other literary devices such as the point of view, the setting and choice of words to add to the literary quality of his work.
Poe can maintain a sense of pervasive humour throughout this short story as he combines horror and humour with so much ease. Pervasive humour is also known as grotesque humour, a style of writing in which the author mixes horror and humour for comic effect.
Is “The Cask of Amontillado” a horror story? Poe presents death as grotesque phenomena, yet in a humorous way to achieve comic relief. Through Montresor, the antagonistic, Poe presents death as a joke. He makes death seem like a funny occurrence from the beginning of the story to the end, which adds irony to the situation. Fortunato tells Montressor that he has a cog, but he wouldn’t die of it, to which Montresor agrees joyously in the affirmative and goes on to encourage Fortunato to ‘drink form draught of this Medoc’ to cure his cough (Poe para 37).
Montressor joyous affirmation is humorous, but the use of the term Medoc is horrific as the reader knows that Medoc, the wine already contains poison. Critics argue that Montresor, an unreliable narrator, uses these words not in any attempt to kill Fortunato but for his self-gratification. This means that Montresor finds joy and amusement in death.
The title of the short story is also humorously horrific. The author uses the word cask to mean wine container or barrel. This term, cask, is obtained from the same root name as the casket, which means coffin. Montresor wants to avenge Fortunato’s insult and thus devices a way to kill him.
Therefore, he invites Fortunato to taste from the cask of Amontillado, Amontillado being the new wine. In the short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” Poe’s use of the term cask infers to the casket, the humorous way of referring to Fortunato’s casket (coffin). Thus, the analysis shows that Fortunato is represented as a fool who falls for this joke, not knowing that it signifies his death.
Poe combines this piece of humour with horror by using the term mason. Fortunato’s questions Montresor whether he is a mason, meaning a member of the freemasons, to which Montresor agrees. In grotesque reference to death, Poe uses the term mason to mean a person who constructs using bricks to insinuate that Montresor will create Fortunato’s grave with stone and mortar (Poe paras 60, 76, 89).
The author also uses the name Fortunato to refer to the folly of this particular character humorously and to conceal the grotesque death that awaits him. As is clear from the summary, the name Fortunato is connected to the word fortunate, which means lucky or good fortune. The reader knows that Fortunato is not lucky as there is grotesque death that awaits him.
As such, Poe uses this name to bring comic relief in a tense and gross situation. Fortunato’s dressing apparel is also humorous and is used for the same purpose as his name Fortunato: to conceal the fate that awaits him (Poe para 4). He is dressed in a jolly outfit as a court jester who is a humorous and comic figure. This is in contrast to the unnatural death that waylays him ahead.
The use of humor in “The Cask of Amontillado,” is mostly achieved through the use of Poe’s linguistic prowess. Humour, other than concealing the grotesqueness of the death that awaits Fortunato, also reveals his folly. Fortunato takes a lot of time to realize the joke in the whole affair among foreshadowing techniques. This brings in comic relief and humour, which lifts the gloom from the story.
Poe, Edgar. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’ n.d. May 26, 2011
The Effects of Humor and Persuasion Essay
Humor is generally considered to be a valuable means used in persuasion to achieve the overall objective and is also highly regarded as the number one psychological motivator. It is applicable in various scopes of communication such as advertising, education, foreign relations, and public relations as well as communication within an organization.
Humor is recognized as a tool used to develop learning since it is able to stimulate the attention of students, exemplify theory and progressively inspire the students through propinquity. There are notable comparables between persuasion and humor since persuasion involves a source presenting a message to the receiver while humor entails an originator calling attention to a funny object in order to entertain the appreciator.
Effectiveness of humor in persuasion
According to Seiter & Gass (2004), the main objective of persuasion is to alter the attitude or mental state of receivers and as a consequence change their behavior. While on the other hand, main objective of humor is to alter the affective or emotional state of the appreciator with the aim of creating amusement which leads to laughter (Markiewicz, 1974).
The effectiveness of humor in persuasion in particular when dealing with broad communication such as advertising takes two different dimensions namely cognitive and affective (Chafe, 1987).
The cognitive dimension gives insight as to how humor optimistically influences the thought process of the one listening to a persuasive message by rousing interest, which creates rapport with the audience and encourages them to progress through an information-processing hierarchy (Martin, 2007).
The affective dimension regarding the effectiveness of humor in persuasion advocates for a constructive attitude toward the advertisement which acts as an arbitrate variable which is responsible for positively influencing the attitude of the audience towards the brand, thus improving the sales and other intended results targeted by the advertisers (Chaffee, 1994).
Studies have revealed that a conditioning process takes place when the audience is exposed to humor and a positive attitude toward the communicator is created leading to heightened interest regarding the subject matter (Mortensen, 2006).
However, though humor draws attention and does not impair the understanding of an audience, it nevertheless does not appear to present a strong challenge to non-humor at improving persuasion. It fails to augment or account for the sincerity of the source but does improve the affection towards the source and for humor to be most effective; it needs to be associated to the message rather than isolated (Markiewicz, 1974).
Various schools of thought believe that humor has minimal or no influences on preservation, conception, persuasion or even source evaluation and these contentions have been corroborated (Seiter & Gass 2004).
Humorous advertisements for instance can keep the audiences amused without necessarily evoking recall or retention and thus will not affect the sale results (Martin, 2007).
As indicated by Martin (2007), through content analysis based on business to business advertisements, a dedicated team of researchers failed to find the achievements brought about by humor that significantly affected recall, distribution, or ratings of the business. Nevertheless, humor does still have a firm standing in as far as enhancing persuasion is concerned since the source is able to build rapport with the receiver which is the fundamental goal of persuasion (Chafe, 1987).
Risk of using Humor in persuasion
Humor can also be damaging if not used in a controlled way, because humor has the tendency to pull away the audience from the intended message. According to Chaffee (1994), studies have shown that humor works peculiarly well with a weak argument where it has a propensity to compensate. Humor does not work well with a strong argument because it tends to distract the listeners from the core communiqué of the argument since humor draws attention primarily to itself (Seiter & Gass 2004).
There is also the risk of misinterpretation where some of the receivers may fail to comprehend the humor effectively losing interest (Chafe, 1987).
Further, humor such as satire and irony may draw the receiver into its complexity further alienating the receiver from the message intended (Mortensen, 2006). Finally, there is the risk that some members of the audience may be offended since humor is usually based on people and daily experiences. It is therefore easy to lose an audience through offences unintentionally brought up through humor persuasion as compared to non-humor persuasion (Markiewicz, 1974).
Previous persuasion theories such as magnetic persuasion allow for the source to connect to the receiver by attracting the receiver through communication. The audience of a speaker using magnetic persuasion is always drawn to the orator. With the inclusion of humor, magnetic persuasion can in fact be more powerful since humor immediately eases the tension that could be there amongst the audience.
Humor also puts the audience in a good mood which is important if magnetic persuasion is to achieve maximum potency. Since the audience is in a good mood, it is easier for them to connect to the speaker and express themselves; since humor is able to draw in their attention and also enhance their receptiveness and responsiveness towards the speaker.
Once such a level of rapport is achieved, the source is said to have completely disarmed the audience. Excessive use of humor is however discouraged since it tends to sway the audience from the important issues being discussed.
Chafe, W. (1987). Humor as a disabling mechanism. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol 16, No 30, pp. 16-26.
Chaffee, J. (1994). Thinking critically (4th Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Markiewicz, D. (1974). Effects of Humor on Persuasion. Sociometry, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 407-422. Web.
Martin, R. (2007). The psychology of humor: an integrative approach. Web.
Mortensen, K. (2006). Increasing Persuasion with Humor. Web.
Seiter, E. and Gass, H. (2004). Perspectives on Persuasion, Social Influence, and Compliance Gaining. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.
The Nature of Humor: What Makes People Laugh Analytical Essay
Literary scholars including novelists, playwrights, poets and authors of short stories, as well as essayists, play a significant role of providing the society with a mirror through which it can see and comprehend deeply its various social, cultural and political trends, which are critical to individual and collective well-being.
Literary scholars deploy various writing styles and literary devices such as imagery, a literary motif, allegory, symbols, a structure or a convention among others in order to bring out themes of their writings clearly. This effort enables them to help their readers relate their writings with the societal reality and thus grasping what the writer intended to pass on through his or her writings.
For instance, Barbara Ehrenreich uses humor in her interesting essay titled “Spudding Out” to deal with a somewhat serious societal situation. The purpose of this paper is to review the situation she has addressed, discuss elements of humor she has used in her essay and find out whether humor is appropriate in passing on her intended message to her target audience.
The situation she has dealt with
Academically, literary works are a creative and constructive way of condemning evils such as corruption, impunity, gender violence and discrimination of any kind, which could be understandably an obstacle to the progress of a society in the eyes of the wise, intellectuals, as well as political leaders of good will. They also serve to comment on the ineffective and unjust socio-economic and political systems of a society. In addition, they enable scholars and thinkers to ridicule intolerable and potentially destructive social behaviors or trends.
Barbara Ehrenreich has humorously used her essay to attack Americans destructive sedentary lifestyles and addiction to television. She is particularly, concerned about how this trend has adversely changed Americans image and how it has made young people immobile and lazy in a humorous language that easily makes the reader to laugh.
Laughter is part of human behavior that just like other human traits is controlled by the brain. Conventionally, people recognize it as a visual manifestation of happiness or an inner feeling of joy. Laughter results from one experiencing an amusing situation and hearing a joke or from other stimuli to mention but a few (Provine, 2001, p.2). It is mostly a very enjoyable feeling.
Presently, intellectuals view laughter as a form of communication (Provine, 2001, p.2). They even believed laughter as possibly the first for of communication among the human species, which subsequently gradually changed with emancipation of the voice by walking and breathing in to human languages.
Use of humor is a common writing style in literary works and performing arts used by writers and artists to address a serious societal issue in a tickling or amusing manner (Fry, 2010, p. 27). For instance, irrespective of the adverse effects of a sedentary life style and addiction to television taking roots in American society, which she actually identifies, Barbara Ehrenreich uses a language and style that is at the same time entertaining.
For example, Barbara amusingly attacks the fall of the Americans from being the salt of the world into what she calls ”couch potatoes” meaning people who spend most of their precious time glued on their lie down chairs (Hunt, 2002,p.626). Barbara accuses the television as this sole cause of this immobility. At one point, she is worried that the youngest Americans who people supposedly expect to appear active and mobile are the highly thoroughly immobilized.
She amusedly says that the young are immobile and physically lazy such that they can switch off the pacemaker of their neighbors when they are at fifteen yards (Hunt, 2002, p. 626). According to Barbara, even though one can see people in the television doing the same things we do in reality, ridiculously, you will never see them watching television. Now this proves funny because the very same people who keep stuck to the screen have no time for television.
Effectiveness of humor
Apart from educating and informing us, literary works also serve the function of entertaining people. Laughter is usually a very pleasant sensation which any sound-minded person would not mind experiencing as many times as possible.
In fact, humorous writers attract a larger audience than scholars whose work lack playerfulness and comedies. Therefore, even though Barbara is addressing a serious situation that touches on individuals’ physical and social wellbeing, humor is appropriate in bringing those issues to the attention of the readers.
Even though it is tickling to hear that people fear to go out because ‘fear of infrastructure’, they are most likely going to pay attention to the real issues addressed by the essayist as they search for more humorous lines in the essay. Humor enables writers to make people laugh and at the same time see their mistakes and even folly. Some of the elements of humor used in the essay include the use of a tickling language.
For example, Barbara calls this new trend spudhood and calls Americans television addicts couch potatoes to signify their unpleasant immobility in front of the television. Being a biologist and a career health scientist, Barbara understood very well the adverse effects of physical dormancy attributed to an extremely sedentary lifestyle. She therefore uses ridicule to scorn reasons why American people fear going out, as well as their addiction to television.
Literary works at a deeper level of analysis are a mirror through which the society is meant to see its flaws and folly. Apart from educating, literary works are also meant to entertain. Therefore, one can use comedies and seriousness to convey a theme effectively. Barbara uses humor to address a serious issue of extreme sedentary lifestyles and addiction to television in a manner that is tickling and fascinating.
Fry, F. (2010). Sweet Madness: A Study of Humor. New York: Transaction Publishers.
Hunt, D. (2002). The Dolphin Reader. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Provine, R. (2001). Laughter: a scientific investigation. New York: Penguin Books.
Humor in Lysistrata and She Stoops to Conquer: Still Funny Today Essay
Aristophanes’ classical Greek play Lysistrata and Oliver Goldsmith’s 18th century British play She Stoops to Conquer, both contain various types of humor. The humor found in these plays was certainly enjoyed by the audiences of the time. However, it is certainly true that much of this humor is still enjoyed today.
For contemporary audiences yet delight in the satire of Lysistrata, the farcical comedy of manners in which the themes of national war and peace, and yes, even war and peace between the sexes, all receive humorous treatment. Next, She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy of manners, where irony prevails amid frequent misunderstandings. Set in the environs of that prevailing polite society, the characters try very hard to preserve the amenities and civility, but frequently fail, as their true actions become known.
First, in Lysistrata, there is much levity in the degree to which the men are made to appear foolish, and to be rather easily manipulated by their women. Further, constant sexual innuendos abound.
There is humorous interplay between the choruses of old men and women. Clearly, the language is very earthy and bawdy. For example, in Part 12, an exchange between several chorus members goes thusly: The woman threatens, “Suppose I let fly a good kick at you?”
Whereupon, the old man rejoins with, “I should see your thing then.” Then, the woman, older herself as well, has the last word with stating, “You would see that, for all my age, it is very well plucked.” (Aristophanes 753)
Further, a primary component of the costuming was an enormous phallus, constructed from leather. And all the men persistently maintain large penile erections. In addition, there’s sexual referencing throughout the play.
Then, there are incongruous and ridiculous situations as well. A definite slapstick element is present as women run after old men using their spindles as weapons.
Then, too, even the dialogue between Lysistrata and the commissioner debating the futility of war is mildly funny. (Aristophanes 782) In addition, note how Aristophanes blends the slapstick scene of the women chasing of old men with weapons like weaving spindles and the intellectual humor of the commissioner’s attempt to argue with Lysistrata’s exposition of the incompetence of the men’s pursuit of the war.
The culmination comes when the warriors return from the Peloponesian Wars, all with gigantic erections. Their women tease them further by showing them a nude female servant, which only makes the men feel more desperate. However, the women will not allow their men sexual satisfaction, until all Athenians and Spartans declare a truce.
In the second play, She Stoops to Conquer, the elitist Charles Marlow is a study in contradiction. A snob by nature, he does actually seek out servants and maids rather than females from the upper classes.
The main premise of the play is that he is en route to meeting up with a family friend, and is “pranked” on the way, which actually ends up with a variety of misunderstandings.
There is humor in these events, such as culture clashes and identity confusion. Also hilarious are the secretive love entanglements surrounding himself and the other male protagonist.
He even has a slightly humorous way of insulting a young lady, claiming, “ Goodness ! “What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl!”
(Goldsmith 41) Then, on his journey, he becomes lost, and levity ensues when he and his companion are told, “Why, gentlemen, if you know neither the road you are going, nor where you are, nor the road you came, the first thing I have to inform you is, that — you have lost your way.” (Goldsmith 55) This is definitely understated humor.
Finally, another example that will provoke a chuckle is the scene between Tony and Hastings. Hastings asks eagerly, where has Tony left the ladies. Tony them replies, by way of a riddle, “Left them? Why, where should I leave them, but where I found them? (Goldsmith 176)
In summary, these are but a few of the scenes and references from these two plays that may be as funny today, as they were at the time of the original productions. It is definitely true that although humor evolves through time, some elements of levity remain both timeless and universal.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata, edited by Jeffrey Henderson, The Focus Classical Library, 1992.
“She Stoops to Conquer.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/She-Stoops-to-Conquer>.
Comedy and humor in World Literature Essay
Literature writing is an expression of the happenings in society. Authors normally voice their opinions about issues affecting the society through various themes. These themes closely relate through study of a character’s actions. Literature study involves enjoying the phrases, feeling the narrator’s words in action, imagining, and placing one’s self in the writer’s shoes. Writings with upright thoughts and use icon proposition add complete touch to the main idea which often appears as hidden in books.
Thus, this reflective paper attempts to explicitly explore the use of satire, laughter, comedy, and humor in the books, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “A Simple Heart” by Flaubert Gustave, the poem “Devine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri, and the article “The Rise of Islam and Islamic Literature”. The scope in this analysis is to capture influence of satire and humor in extrapolating themes in these writings. In the conclusive segment, conceptualization is put in place in order to ensure relevance in review of prospect schema.
Things Fall Apart
In the novel “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe portrays a futuristic community while adopting humor in use of jargon and slang writing styles. Actually, Achebe employs four-word-sub-section paragraphs and snappy sentences to illustrate his message without difficulties.
This style of writing is appealing especially to young generation who does not entertain or like ambiguity. Definitely, the main character Okonkwo’s consciousness and his endeavor to grasp and comprehend the necessity of change have actually driven the plot of the novel. Humor is extensively used in this book to regulate intense mood.
For instance, in the fight between Okonkwo and Amalinze ‘the cat’, the author breaks tension by use of satiric such as fish to connote Amalinze’s back. Okonkwo’s description in itself is comedy. He engages in self-gratification behavior and is interested in fulfilling his own needs. In representing the themes of poverty and failure, Achebe applies satire.
Okonkwo is a direct opposite of his lazy father Unoka. Ironically, despite hating his father, Okonkwo nickname his son after Unoka. Here, the comedy of absurd is presented in the description of the state of poverty in the family of Okonkwo’s father. The author comically describes the only inheritance Okonkwo got from his father as unending debt. The sense of humor goes further to clarify that Unoka did not even leave his youngest wife for Okonkwo to ‘inherit’.
The theme of economic disparity and respect are painted as intense across the novel “Things Fall Apart”. In the series of elder meetings, respect is accorded to those with blotted household and stores of yams. The weaklings among the elders are comically teased as women, bachelors, and a disgrace to manhood.
Despite the fact that these terms are abusive, the comical twist in their use lowers tension among community members united by clan but divided by economic disparities. However, due to the fact that the main character was ignorant, nobody was certain of how the community carried out its duties.
Moreover, “Things Fall Apart” presents an atmosphere that is socially declining in a comical gesture. For instance, introduction of Christianity, which offers an abode to the outcasts, is initially thought as a harmless home of the busybodies. In a comical twist, Okonkwo loses his first son Unoka to the mission centre. In the end, the modernity system which the elders spent days and years ridiculing sweeps the entire village.
Okonkwo loses everything he believed in and dies like an outcast. In a satiric twist of events, the sacrilege taboo of commit suicide on the rope overcomes Okonkwo. The author has succeeded in toning down tension in his rather emotional description of a typical traditional African society before neocolonialism drains the last remains of pure African culture.
A Simple Heart
The 1877 book “A Simple Heart” by Flaubert relies on comic connotation to tone down tension in the life of the main character Felicite. Her rather fruitless existence is described in constant ebbs of satire. Flaubert criticizes such kind of a society by describing it as a ‘non reciprocating’ piece of existence.
The themes of life and death are presented in a satirical touch, especially as a reader views the boundless world in which the main character nurses her naïve dreams. Reflectively, love and spirit have been made easy to accommodate in the thoughts of a reader through use of a light language. As the “Le Perroquet” story develops, the servant girl loses what she proudly refers to as her ‘only love’ to another lady.
Though the departure of Theodore weighs heavily on her, the author lightens the tone by pushing a reader far away from this experience to introduce two lovely children of Auben. Despite the series of people who take advantage of her fragile nature, comedy of absurd indicate that the main character remains selfless in her strong but yet fragile personality.
Reflectively, religious inclination often triggers suspicion and caution among societies. The author uses a toned down language to hallucinate on the pet parrot that double up as a perceived Holy Ghost above the death bed of Felicite. The sound made by this parrot completely distracts the tensed mood as the main character display altruist love.
Though the moment creeps tension and bad feeling on a reader, the main character seems to careless and has a bestial attitude. In the end, the rather somber mood of the story line is lightened by the parrot, the main character’s unexamined life, and a soft awakening language.
The poem “Devine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri addresses the theme of building own insight and understanding through reflection and deeds that is comically painted as oscillating continually. Moreover, Dante claims that people acquire intellectual superiority as a consequence of their experience both in their subjective involvement in environment and to apply such models in their practical life.
The imaginative description of afterlife leaves a reader gasping for breath. The author introduces a soft stance on death and classifies it as a good thing. In the paradiso lines, the author states that any variance between actual heaven and the perceived heaven are a creation of the mind.
The “Devine Comedy” is visionary poem which paints an image of a life that operates below expectations. Actually, the events of the poem happen in an afterlife imagined in the mind. Unluckily, people with inadequate resources are simply left behind and brushed away. The “Devine Comedy” is a poem that focuses on futuristic fiction. In fact, all characters are not future minded people. Similarly, in the modern world, most kids are heartless and insensitive.
Moreover, the modern world is a rotten place where people only involve in callous behaviors with intention of self gratification. This is a culture where people are not open minded, but are superficially entrenched to fulfill selfless desires. This results into social problems. In fact, people are so much concerned with materialistic possession without endeavoring to build religious faith. However, the tensed theme is presented in a light comical language that keeps a reader focused.
The poem “Devine Comedy” is actually significant to not only young people, but also to older generation. Although, the poem commences on a good note, the end is horrible. This conveys a special message to modern people to thinks about their lives. Actually, the poem compels people to be open-minded and to embrace objective deeds beyond personal gratification.
The poet conveys useful message to people who continue with their technological blindness without nourishing spiritual and humane values of life. Too much entrenchment in artificial intelligence and technological material possession has led to the collapse of human thought.
The Rise of Islam and Islamic Literature
The article “The Rise of Islam and Islamic Literature” relies heavily on a balance of irony and realism to present a very unique literary style of depicting different religious inclinations. Religion is simply indicated as a very important factor which plays a role in development of one’s identity in terms of race, gender, family relationships, and social status.
The article shows how an individual’s sense of character is vulnerable to control by others when their religious beliefs are shallowly rooted. Interestingly, the subjective description of the sojourn as Muslims interact with Persians creates a comical irony. Satire creeps in the rejection of non Arabic language Koran despite the fact that such a translation would be beneficial to non Arabic speaking Muslims.
Without a religious angle, this article would be similar to watching a movie with no camera effects, no sound effects, and with unknown characters as the only aim is passing a message. In the author’s use of the religious desires as a theme, he succeeds in characterizing the powerful in the society and the weaker ones in their desire to find love, maintain marriages, and climb economic ladder within the religious cycles without having to introduce resentment for either quarter.
Interestingly, the wall limiting desires in these persons is an unending phenomenon which cannot be destroyed. Instead of focusing on either antagonistic or protagonist stand, the narrator present a brief on both sides. Religion grooms people to be caring. Indeed, religious idea was rarely discussed in the society. However, with intelligence and braveness, the article talked about religion in an open, attractive and agitating language.
Actually, religion comprised one of the many mysteries that writers never dare to investigate upon. Furthermore, the conflict in the narrative was due to religious vision that associated with time rather than the mankind. However these ideas are sarcastically narrated. Indeed, this is an eventual remark to the short feature of religious pleasure in life.
Conclusively, the authors have succeeded in assimilating comical touch in their rather emotional story lines. Fortunately, the self regulating society seems to offer a facilitated explanation for common support. The authors have imposed the above thoughts in a comical, satiric and humorous presentation.
Through recognizing aspects of loyalty, moral crisis, honor, and revenge, the authors give their stories a portrait of a typical society filled with human action drama that combines stories of self-discovery and love without creating discomfort in personalities in the plot.
Racial Humor and Stereotypes in “Rush Hour 2” Essay (Movie Review)
The modern world is very diverse. Due to the influence of the process of globalization various cultures on our planet started to interact very closely, massive waves of migrations covered every country and the clash of customs, traditions, religions and lifestyles became inevitable. This caused many cultural conflicts. Some of them were successfully solved and today people of various origins are able to co-exist and co-operate. Even though cultural diversity has become a part of our everyday life, there are still issues the modern society has to face. One of them is the problem of racism, racial prejudices and stereotypes. This problem is powerful and big, it is able to influence the lives of different social groups in a very negative way. The world of film making could not stay out of this issue. Racial diversity, political correctness and tolerance entered cinematography and brought various rules. The article by Park et al. explores the effect racial jokes and stereotypes in the comedy film “Rush Hour 2” are able to make on the audience.
The authors of the article notice that “Rush Hour 2” had a great deal of popularity when it was released. The comedy was watched and liked all around the world by people of all origins (Park et al 2006). The main feature of this movie is not only the fact that it presents a Black man and an Asian man as main characters, but that it also is filled with stereotypical racial humor directed at mocking people of African and Asian origin on the basis of the most common prejudices about these races.
The two main heroes, Lee and James, played by Jackie Chan and Chris Rock fit into the standard stereotypical images of their nations. James loves to party, tries to pick up every woman around and acts impulsively. Chan’s character is collected and serious, devoted to his work, good at kung fu and not interested in dating. These characters all the time exchange racial jokes and comments. For example, during a fight with a Chinese gang James hits Lee by accident and explains this stating that all Asians look the same (Rush Hour 2 2001). He also mentions that everyone in Hong Kong is two feet shorter than him. Lee responds with phrases like “I will slap you back to Africa” (Rush Hour 2 2001).
In the article by Park et al. it is noticed that all the stereotypes collected in the movie are designed to support the positive image of white people (2006). First of all, even though both main characters are detectives and heroes, saving lives, their masculinity is toned down. In the film Lee and James are portrayed only as comic characters, which cannot be taken seriously, in order not to ruin the good reputation of white men. Besides, the only roles given to white actors in “Rush Hour 2” are very small, yet white men always turn out to be on the leading positions, while the Asian and African men are working for their white bosses. The question raised in the article by Park et al. is exploring whether racial humor and remarks in a comedy film have the capacity to influence the audience’s prejudices and empower them.
To my mind, it does, especially due to the fact that neither of the main characters is offended by racial comments. This kind of humor and behavior is portrayed as appropriate (Park et al. 2006). Such attitude, enforced by the power of television, makes an impact on the masses and creates an illusion that harsh comments about one’s nation or origin are normal for every group and for each person.
Birnbaum, R. (Producer), & Ratner, B. (Director). (2001). Rush Hour 2 [Motion Picture]. United States, China: New Line Cinema.
Park, J. H., Gabbadon, N. G. & Chernin, A. R. (2006). Naturalizing Racial Differences through Comedy: Asian, Black and White Views on Racial Stereotypes in “Rush Hour 2”. Journal of Communication 56, 157-177.
Humor in the Workplace Essay (Critical Writing)
Modern scholars as well as business administrators attempt to identify those factors which impact people’s attitude toward their jobs, their willingness to remain with the company, and contribute to its performance.
Special attention is paid to humor and fun at the workplace since they are associated with such positive outcomes as decreased absenteeism and burnout, and improved relations among employees (Plester, 2009, p 584).
Additionally, it is believed that humor and fun can enhance group cohesiveness and team work (Baptise, 2009, p 601). Overall, their effects are considered to be beneficial.
This paper aims to discuss the ways in which fun and humor can impact managing people at work. Yet, it is necessary for us to explain how humor and fun are constructed in contemporary organizations.
In other words, one has to understand in what kind of companies people are more likely to have fun or resort to humor.
The findings of this paper can be important from theoretical and practical perspectives: on the one hand, they can better explain those forces which govern the relations among colleagues; while on the other hand, they can be used by managers, who need to improve the climate in the workplace and ultimately raise productivity of employees.
Humor and fun in their workplace and their manifestations
Humor and fun are those notions which avoid definitions or interpretations; in part, because there are hundreds if not thousands definitions of humor.
Managers and researchers do not overlook the issue because it is vital to mark the boundaries of legitimate or permissible fun in the workplace.
Modern scholars define these notions in terms of what they are not. In other words, they try to single out those aspects of fun, which are not permissible, for instance, Jerald Greenberg focuses on those jokes which are based on racial or sexual stereotypes (2010 p 176).
In short, humor must not be offensive or it will eventually result into hostility.
In their turn, Susanna Stromberg and Jan Karlsson (2009) argue that the management must not tolerate those activities which can potentially distract employees from their direct duties or harm the reputation of an organization.
In addition to that, psychologists and sociologists associate humor and fun with subcultures in the workplace. The thing is that employees can adopt overtly compliant behavior and at the same time mock the managers behind their backs (Stromberg & Karlsson, 2009, p 634).
Understanding of these boundaries is crucial for the management since humor can turn into a very dangerous weapon that produces adverse effects on the company.
At this point we can say that the impacts of fun or humor depend on how employees and managers understand these notions and how they determine whether they are appropriate for a particular situation or not.
Apart from that, one should remember that humor and fun in the workplace are connected with organizational culture, structure, power distance between the co-workers. One of the factors which are commonly identified by scholars is generational difference (Lamm & Meeks 2009). Different generations such as baby boomers1, generation Xers2, or Millennials3 have different attitudes and perceptions of work (Macky, Gardner & Forsyth, 2008).
For example, some people, who were born between 1941 and 1960 may object to fun because it may distract employees from their direct responsibilities, whereas Millennials are more favorable of it (Lamm & Meeks 2009, p 620; Zemke et al, 2000).
Thus, one can say that the age of employees shapes workplace relations, including attitude toward humor and fun. Another very important factor is power distance in the company.
If an organization has a complex hierarchical structure in which there are many formal barriers among co-workers, they are less likely to make or take jokes.
Such scholars as Peter Fleming and Andrew Sturdy (2009) study believe that lack of empowerment, over-supervision suppress individuality and subsequently stifle person’s willingness to express joy or fun.
Certainly, one can hardly deny the fact that humor is present in bureaucratic and hierarchical organizations as well, but it often has such characteristics as sarcasm or even cynicism because it is usually directed against high-ranking officials or even against clients (Kinnie, Hutchinson & Purcell, p 967).
Thus, we can say that the nature of fun and humor in contemporary organizations are dependent on the culture, structure, values, and even demographic characteristic of the employees, especially age.
The influence of humor and fun
The influence of humor and fun manifest itself at different levels.
Such a researchers Nicole Baptiste points out the following beneficial effects of fun the workplace: 1) psychological benefits such as decreased sense of stress and anxiety or enhanced job satisfaction; 2) physical improvements, especially reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and 3) improved relations among employees in terns of cooperation, social support, trust, and reciprocity (Baptiste, 2009, p 603).
These are the most important advantages. It should also be mentioned that a person, who expresses his/her disagreement through joke or witticism, is less likely to come into conflict with his/her colleagues.
This ability to express fun is particularly important in the relations between the managers and frontline personnel.
Apart from that, both humor and fun can improve a great number of organizational activities, especially brainstorming during which employees have to come up with daring and often unrealistic ideas (Baptiste, 2009, p 608).
The managers, who use humor as method of motivation, can better involve the frontline personnel into brainstorming because they will not be afraid of making mistakes.
As it has been said before, the employees, who can freely make jokes, feel more relaxed, and they are less susceptible to work stress. More importantly, they are less likely to vent their spleen on their families.
Therefore, these improvements can be explained by the psychological impacts of having fun.
Apart from that, the surveys conducted by different companies show that the employees, who have an opportunity to have fun at work, display higher levels of job satisfaction (Karl & Pelluchette, 2006).
Consequently, these people are more likely to stay with a company or an organization that will not have to incur extra expenses on recruitment and training of new hires.
One should not assume that fun in the workplace is related only to psychological wellbeing of the staff. In fact, these activities can allow the company to minimize its operating costs.
This is one the key reasons why fun and humor are accepted or at least tolerated by modern business administrators.
Additionally, we need to discuss the culture which can emerge due to the influence of humor and fun.
Such companies as Google create leisure-oriented workplace, allow employees to ride scooters in the office in effort to reduce work stress (Bolton & Houlihan, 2009, p 558).
The management of this corporation encourages or at least does not prohibit the personnel to have fun. As a result, the employees of this corporation have formed a distinct type of identity that is different from other companies.
The business culture of Google has become associated with empowerment, relative autonomy of the employees, and youth. On the whole, it is possible to argue that humor and fun liberalize the managerial policies of an organization and makes them less formalized and bureaucratic.
Nevertheless, business administrators should remember at the same time, humor and fun can lead to excessively familiar relations between the management and front-line personnel; in particular, one should remember about those situations when interpersonal relations become more important than workplace responsibilities.
Yet, such scenario is possible only in those cases when the management cannot draw a distinct line between interpersonal and workplace relations.
This analysis indicates that the influence of humor and fun on the managerial policies and employee relations is not universal. The outcomes depend on the size of an organization, demographic structure, its dominant business culture, and workplace hierarchy.
As a rule, they lead to the liberalization of relations between the senior management and frontline personnel. In such environment, the employees feel free to express their opinions.
By encouraging the workers to have fun, the management can promote better teamwork and brainstorming practices. Yet, the most crucial question is how to define humor and fun so that they would be applicable to modern work environment.
They must not evolve into familiarity, negligence, and over-permissiveness, since they can weaken the company’s performance. These are the most important questions that the management should remember about.
Baptiste N. 2009. Fun and well-being: insights from senior managers in a local authority. Employee Relations. 31 (6), p 600-612.
Bolton S. & Houlihan M. 2009 Are we having fun yet? A consideration of workplace fun and engagement. Employee Relations 31, (6), pp 556-559.
Greenberg. J. (2010). Insidious Workplace Behavior. London: Routledge.
Fleming P. & Sturdy A. Just be yourself!” Towards neo-normative control in organisations? Employee Relations, (31), 6, p 569-583.
Karl, K. and Peluchette, J. 2006, Does workplace fun buffer the impact of emotional exhaustion on job dissatisfaction? A study of health care workers, Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, 7 (2), pp. 128-41.
Kinnie, N., Hutchinson, S. and Purcell, J. (2000), Fun and surveillance: the paradox of high commitment management in call centres, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11 (5), pp. 967-85.
Lamm E. & Meeks M. Workplace fun: the moderating effects of generational differences. Employee relations, 31, (6), p 613-631
Macky, K., Gardner, D. and Forsyth, S. (2008), Generational differences at work: introduction. and overview. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28 (8), pp. 857-61.
Plester B. 2009. Crossing the line: boundaries of workplace humour and fun. Employee Relations. 31, (6), pp 584-599.
Stromberg. S. & Karlsson. J. 2009. Rituals of fun and mischief: the case of the Swedish meatpackers. Employee Relations (31), 6, pp 632-647.
Zemke, R., Raines, C. and Filipczak, B. (Eds) 2000. Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace. NY: Amacon,
1 The generation of people born after the World War II.
2 People who were born between 1960 and 1980
3 People who were born between 1980 and 2000
African-American Humor as a Reflection of Change Essay
In most cases, minority groups use comedy as a way of gaining acceptance from the mainstream society. For a long time, African-Americans have been branded as second-class citizens, selfish, and lazy individuals. Unlike in the past when African-Americans retaliated to such prejudices and criticisms with defiance, comedians in the contemporary times use humor to settle most of these social injustices. Besides humor, different individuals are advancing numerous social commentaries regarding race and class interlink in the United States.
While comedians may revoke uncomfortable sentiments at some points, comedy is gradually becoming essential in society by compelling people to face realities that they would otherwise confront through aggression. The purpose of this article is to show that humor has been employed by the African-American population as a tool of diminishing the stereotypes that get in their way towards the realization of equal privileges in the mainstream society.
Stand-up comedy has been used as an alternative to liberate African-Americans by pushing social boundaries through stories that at times might seem unacceptable, but they are met with espousal when narrated on stage. With this assertion in mind, this article agrees with Joseph Boskin’s claim that the contemporary African-American humor demonstrates that this minority group has been liberated from the past and it has advanced to a state beyond defiance.
Humor as an alternative to violence
In cases where the truth hurts, it is better to respond with a joke as opposed to violence. Covert resistance declined at the peak of the civil rights movements in the late 1960s. Although retaliation through violence recurred during the 1992 Los Angeles incidence, the pressure was too much not only for blacks, but also for other minority groups to retaliate (Williams 67).
These events forced black comics to seek their way into white platforms by breaking the walls that had restricted minority groups from the popular culture. Stand-up comedy has developed to instigate change in a manner that leaves the audience with a lasting impression about the truth and a desire to get more of it. The fact that the truth is cemented in humor gives the critics a reason to smile, since the humor drives away the stigma thereof.
This new platform gives African-American the chance to neutralize all inequalities that face them in the mainstream culture of the United States. Good humor provokes tension and the comedians help the audience to release that tenseness. This concept of tension and tension release enables the comic to talk about sensitive issues without the fear of intimidation and victimization. Even talking about taboos becomes easy regardless of how controversial they are in the normal day-to-day life.
African-American comedians have embarked on doing comedy about their culture with a sense of humor. Then the audience realizes that the stereotype is difficult to perpetuate for the potency of the prejudice declines. Talking about what mainstream society thinks and says about one’s culture will not necessarily harm anyone, but it will destabilize people’s power and force them to rethink their stance.
For example, contemporary comedy reminds people of the interweaving racial and political conditions during the times of civil rights movements coupled with what today’s minority groups continue to face (Comer 32). Civil rights commentators such as Malcolm X and Luther King both fought hard to attain equality for African-Americans, which set the grounds for the contemporary comics who use jokes to pass similar messages. After the assassination of King in 1968, the nonviolence moral principles were immediately replaced by looting. The consequences required alternative ways to respond.
The 1992 Los Angelis riots were a demonstration of anger experienced by African- Americans concerning the verdicts in the Rodney King’s trial. Although the riots cannot be justified, the violence was an unavoidable consequence of the persisting racism, police brutality towards minorities, and the vagaries of poverty amidst the minorities (Boskin 161). From this perspective, it becomes hard to condone lawless vandals as a means of rectifying the system.
African-American comedy sought to convey the message that everyone, regardless of race or any other disparity, deserved equal opportunities. Even when African-Americans were restrained by flawed interpretation of the law and resistance, which led to the loss of lives by black radicals, comedy emerged to rekindle hope for the highly discriminated individuals. Even when the media intentionally victimized African-Americans for atrocities committed by the whites, black comics did not relent in their fight to alleviate social ills against the minority groups.
Humor in the fictions of slavery
Slavery is one example of how African-Americans were exploited and discriminated from the mainstream American culture. In his book, Rock This, the African-American comedian, Chris Rock, presents a stereotype of a minority who gives in to the mainstream culture in a bid to cope (Boskin 149). Rock gives examples demonstrating how slavery created grounds and a substantial source of African-American humor.
The examples provided in this book treat humor seriously by appealing to slavery-centered stereotypes reminding people of the past events and linking them with the present in a way that changes suffering into jokes and insight. As Boskin shows, Joel Chandler Harris and Al Jolson greatly utilized black history and present expressions to generate humor (146). They made fun of the experiences of an elderly slave working on a plantation in North Carolina.
The laughter of resistance, enhanced not only ego strength among the African-Americans, but also it served to disarm the misfortunes of the victims. Most white supremacists acknowledge what Chris Rock joked about the black people by admitting that it underlines the truth. Apparently, even white supremacists have started appreciating the opinion of an African-American comedian. Doing jokes about racial stereotypes should only be based on facts. This aspect gives the audience the element of humor when it clicks true to their experiences.
As rising social concerns cause new scenes and stereotypes in the US, African-Americans have continued to show resilience in the way they address such issues. They have used stand-up comedy as a platform to counter assumptions and treat prejudice lightly. For example, the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States created rift between the Muslim society and other individuals. In response to the anti-Islam atmosphere, Muslim American comics are touring the US in a bid to change the mentality of the mainstream society that Muslims are terrorists. In the same perspective, African-Americans abandoned savage behavior of resistance and opted for comedy to drive home their grievances (Munby 40).
The role of the mainstream media
In the past, media platforms inclined to representing what protected white supremacy. Media had the tendency to depict the conflicts as being instigated by the blacks against the whites. Unfortunately, media platforms would treat white suspects as better individuals than black victims. Often, African-Americans were discriminated by the mainstream media, which meant continued subjugation of African Americans.
The media did not focus on communicating the cries of misery, poverty, and hopelessness of individuals living in the slums. Going back to the 1980s, the famous Cosby Show gave an insight of the President Reagan’s attack on liberal calls. Regan’s administration turned focus away from the minority concerns and concentrated on reforms that embraced the desires of the rich (Jarrett 87). It also presented viewers with a new African-American condition.
Despite the notion represented by Reagan about African-Americans being lazy, blacks did not choose to retaliate violently. The rising African-American market attracted mainstream media with shows such as The Cosby Show. This show illuminated social injustices of the time in a way that brought laughter, but relayed the message that addressed the persisting situation. The success of the Cosby Show indicated that times had changed and African-Americans had been liberated. The appeals through comedy demonstrated to the public a new image of African-Americans who were distinct from their earlier stereotyped version of being lazy and deviant.
Despite the election of the first African-American president in 2008, African-Americans remain the targets of hate crimes. Although anti-black violence has greatly decreased in the recent years, it persists in some areas, thus creating a negative impact on the minority society. However, the most important factor is that African-Americans have now liberated themselves from the past and they no longer respond with violence. The media has become less inclined to the interest of the majority and the African-Americans utilize this opportunity to change stereotypes associated with them as a minority group. As a result, African-American humor is developing to address different themes regularly in a bid to reinstate dignity and diversity in the mainstream society.
Boskin, Joseph. The Humor Prism in 20th-Century America, Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1997. Print.
Comer, Krista. “Imagining the African American West; Wrangling Women: Humor and Gender in the American West.” American Literature 82.1 (2010): 202-204. Print.
Jarrett, Gene. A Companion to African American Literature, Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print.
Munby, Jonathan. Under a Bad Sign: Criminal Self-Representation in African American Popular Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
Williams, Dana. African American Humor, Irony, and Satire, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. Print.