Who Says Libertarians Don’t Have a Sense of Humor?
Comedytary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
Okay, the answer to that headline question is that virtually everyone says libertarians don’t have a sense of humor, including many libertarians themselves.
It’s understandable this should be so since virtually every minority group gets satirized, spoofed, burlesqued, lampooned, laughed at, ragged on, ridiculed, scorned, mocked and is otherwise the object of fun-poking at some point during its evolution in society.
And libertarians are certainly the minorities of today’s social, political and philosophical worlds.
So humor, perhaps even more so than other subjective opinions like art, beauty, justice, morality, religion and “truth” is deeply embedded in the mind of the beholder. Humor, what is or is not funny to a person, rests on the entirety of that person’s value system.
If libertarians, like other people, are insecure in their own worldview, in their philosophical principals, they won’t find jokes about themselves very humorous.
Book Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
This is it! A must-have book for every libertarian! Leave it on your coffee table when those non-libertarian friends and family members come over. Watch the puzzled looks on their faces as they flip through the 100 pages of absolutely . . .
Because it’s a gag book! All the pages are blank. Meaning, of course, that there is no way to win an argument with a libertarian. It could be a great conversation starter . . . or a conversation stopper!
And of course you can fill those empty pages with your own winning arguments, winning cartoons and winning jokes yourself. Kent B. Rong will become your own pseudonym.
Non-Libertarian’s Libertarian Humor
Unfortunately most libertarian humor is actually anti-libertarian, created by people who purposely set out to demean, debase, degrade and denigrate rather than amuse. These jokes are typically so off-point that they’re just stupid or moronic rather than funny.
For example, take these from The Best Ever Book of Libertarian Jokes which is actually just a collection of very old, boring, dimwitted stereotype insult gags recycled over and over by substituting the word “libertarian” for the original target:
“Hear about the libertarian who broke both legs ironing the curtains?” She fell out the window.” (Recycled blonde joke)
“Hear about the libertarian who went to a mind reader? There was no charge.” (Recycled moron joke)
“How many libertarian jokes are there? None, they’re all facts. (Recycled political joke)
See? Just boring old predictable stereotypes.
But remember, the question here is whether libertarians have a sense of humor, not whether the humor is actually funny or not.
In a 1979 Rolling Stone interview former Tonight Show host and comedian Johnny Carson explained simply, “If you try to analyze a joke and dissect it, take it apart—it’s no longer funny.”
In an article titled “Getting serious about funny: Psychologists see humor as a character strength.” The author explained that to “get” a joke requires “a sequence of mental operations” that work like this:
1. First you have to mentally understand the set-up of the joke.
2. Then you must see the incongruity in the multiple interpretations in the set-up.
3. And last you must “resolve the incongruity by inhibiting the literal, non-funny interpretations and appreciating the meaning of the funny one.”
That might explain why every non-libertarian’s joke about libertarianism is received with a groan and a head shake from libertarians rather than a laugh since the majority of anti-libertarian jokes lack all three of those necessary points.
1. Non-libertarians don’t get libertarianism so they just rely on a few outdated simplistic stereotypes repeated over and over among other non-libertarians so there really isn’t any “set-up” to get.
2. Therefore there is no “incongruity” in the set-up to see since they’re convinced that there are no “multiple interpretations.” To non-libertarian minds the joke “Libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke pot” is just an obvious factual statement.
3. And that means there’s no “incongruity” between “literal, non-funny interpretations” and “the meaning of the funny one” since the jokes aren’t jokes at all but just literal put-downs.
Libertarian’s Non-Libertarian Humor
Conversely it’s actually easier for libertarians to make fun of the control freak authoritarian right and especially the airhead social justice warrior left and virtually every collectivist ideology ever collected. That’s because:
1. The set-up is always the same—“We authoritarians know better than you because . . .”
2. The incongruity is obvious when libertarians compare the authoritarian groupthink claim to reality.
3. Resolving the incongruity between the two is so obvious it’s instantly funny.
But there’s an even deeper question to be considered about libertarian humor that’s seldom ever addressed. And that is the fact that few libertarians seem amenable to self-parody—that is, laughing at themselves, at their own quirks and kinks and foibles.
That makes it difficult to track down and find actual, and actually funny, jokes by libertarians about libertarians on the Internet since there are so few of them to be found.
Another thing that makes this difficult is that few people tell jokes online anymore; joke-telling has been superseded by cartoons, memes and mindless troll shots, all targeted to the short attention span of most onliners.
Libertarian’s Libertarian Humor
Still, here are four “retellings” of actual libertarian jokes, the kinds that have the actual set-up, interpretation and resolution elements of the classical “told” joke. To preclude any charges of plagiarism each joke, while somewhat or extensively reworked in the retelling, is credited with the original contributor’s name and source.
WARNING: These first two gags are “intellectual libertarian jokes” so they may not be funny to everyone—or anyone.
Intellectual Libertarian Joke 1
During a libertarian meeting an argument breaks out over “thick” versus “thin” libertarianism that has two sides of the room angrily shouting at each other that they are the “True Libertarians.”
After the meeting the host goes to see an elderly friend who has been deeply involved in libertarianism for many decades.
The host asks whether “thin libertarianism” is correct and the old man says, “It sounds like that’s an important perspective.”
“Then what about thick libertarianism?” the host asks. The old libertarian replies, “Well, that sounds like an important perspective, too.”
Frustrated, the host growls, “C’mon, you can give me something better than that. Every week, my members just fight and yell at each other over what true libertarianism is and…”
“Yes,” the old man interrupts, “that is true libertarianism.”
—Original posted by Max Hill in liberty.me, May 2, 2014
Intellectual Libertarian Joke 2
I saw a man start to jump off a bridge so I yelled “Stop!” and ran over to him.
“It’s this country,” the would-be jumper moaned. “The liberals are ruining it and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. I don’t want to live anymore.”
“So you must be a conservative,” I asked.
“I’m a libertarian,” he said.
“Me too!” I cried. “See, you’re not alone. Are you a free-market libertarian or a libertarian socialist?”
“Free-market libertarian,” he said.
“Same here!” I said. “Paleo-libertarian or neo-libertarian?”
“So am I! Chicago or Austrian school of economics?”
“Me too! Hayekian or Rothbardian?”
“Same as me! Consequentialist or deontological?”
“Consequentialist,” he said.
“Die, statist!” I yelled, and pushed him off the bridge.
—Original posted by u/WildWeazel on Reddit.com, Nov 15, 2012
Yikes! A very un-nonaggression principled ending to that one!
But as one Andrew Trznadel put it (posted in liberty.me, May 2, 2014), “When you try to explain to other people in the room why you’re laughing-out-loud at these jokes and all you get are blank stares . . . you might be a libertarian.”
So maybe that’s the one true libertarian Litmus Test: If you can’t laugh at your own beliefs at least once in a while maybe you’re not a TRUE libertarian.
Now, however, just to fill out the article and reach the word-count requirement—since there are so few “told” libertarian jokes to be found—here are a couple of non-intellectual ones.
Non-Intellectual Libertarian Joke 1
Late one night in Washington, DC a well-dressed man stepped out of a deluxe restaurant and a mugger wearing a ski mask stuck a gun in his ribs.
“Give me your money!” the mugger snarled.
Indignant, the affluent man replied, “You can’t do this. I’m a United States Congressman!”
“In that case,” the mugger snorted, “give me my money!”
—Original posted by Properal on liberty.me, May 9, 2014
Non-Intellectual Joke 2
While he’s in town picking up supplies a libertarian survivalist finds a great deal on ammo and buys several cases for his AR-15.
On his way home he stops at a gas station where a young drop-dead gorgeous blonde in a tube top and cutoffs is filling up her little red convertible at the next pump.
She looks at the ammo in the back of his pickup truck and coos in a very sexy voice, “I’m a big believer in barter. Would you be interested in trading sex for ammo?”
The guy thinks for a few seconds and asks, “What kinda ammo ya got?”
—Original posted by Dan Mitchell in International Liberty, April 30, 2013
Self-parody is a good sign of self-acceptance and self-confidence because laughing at oneself becomes a form of self-validation; it means you realize that “funny” doesn’t mean “wrong.”
And remember, there’s no such thing as an old joke to someone who has never heard it before.
References and Links
Discredit: Unless otherwise noted all moronic memes and mashups above by Libergarryan.
Liberty.me Jokes Page Liberty.me bills itself as “the global liberty community” that brings together “freedom-loving people from around the world.” But nobody has posted on its “Libertarian Jokes” page since 2014. Get funny Freedom Folks!
International Liberty Humor Page Dan Mitchell has long been posting both pro and anti-libertarian humor on his web page along with other hilarity such as Socialism/Communism Humor, Government In Cartoons, a Moocher Hall of Fame and other comedic categories.
The “Getting Serious About Funny” Article The introductory paragraph states “Humor is observed in all cultures and at all ages. But only in recent decades has experimental psychology respected it as an essential, fundamental human behavior.”