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Comedy: The Intelligence Of Humor

Updated on March 20, 2016

So... I was pleasantly surprised that I somehow ended up gaining the honor of being selected as a wannabe hubnugget candidate for the Games, Toys and Hobbies category(woooo!). Since I got that news my face has been in a constant smile. Today I’m going to do something new and perhaps start on a new series of hubs other than game reviews or guides. Playing games is one of my favorite hobbies; it keeps me entertained and fills my head with new ideas. In addition to playing games, I am also a heavy thinker; so I’ve decided to put some of my musings into writing and post them here in hopes it might ignite the minds of my readers and get them thinking.

The intelligence of humor… Or the intelligence required for a sense of humor. Note that if someone does not laugh at a joke, it doesn’t mean that the joke lacks humor or the listener lacks intelligence…Perhaps it is lack of knowledge or a bad delivery. But the bottom line is that humor does not equal laughs. Humor to me, is the connection of the joke to the situation or the context of which would allow it to be humorous. Sarcasm and irony are some examples of humor that completely revolve around a situation. Play on words and Mad-libs are some examples of humor that revolve around a context. Therefore, there is more than one type of humor.

And now for a game reference; Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) uses two stats to sum up a character’s mental capacity. These two stats are Intelligence and Wisdom. The first being more of a booksmart knowledge of everything; a character with an absurd intelligence stat is pretty much a walking encyclopedia. Most magic users require high intelligence because the power of their magic comes from their understanding or knowledge of magic rather than just chanting a few words and picking their noses. Wisdom on the other hand is often seen as a more streetsmart type of knowledge. Monks with a high wisdom stat gain higher Armor class and other bonuses to a few of their skills. This is justified by likening wisdom to experience; you have streetsmart knowledge of how weapons or the body works, so logically, you would know better ways of dodging, proper techniques, and how to hit someone where it hurts. It is possible to be high in one stat and low in the other since both are independent of one another. High intelligence would let you know the density of water and how it’s created as well as its molecular bonds…ect. But a wisdom stat would allow you to guess what will float in water and that you can drown in it and how you can use it for various purposes (cleaning, waterwheels, ice… ect) .

Back to reality. Current scientific breakthroughs have attributed one’s Intelligence to their ability to seamlessly connect all of their knowledge and their skills. If you might have noticed, this is extremely similar to DnD’s Wisdom and Intelligence stats, except with slightly backwards titles. Science currently defines Intelligence, to be similar to DnD Wisdom. So our DnD Intelligence, would have to simply be referred to as Knowledge. Now that I’ve gotten all of the base knowledge out of the way, it’s time to go somewhere with it.

Whether someone understands something depends on their knowledge of the situation(knowledge) and if they can put all of the given information together(intelligence). If we use Science’s definition of Intelligence and its universal use of knowledge and skills, then we can safely say that humor is a show of one’s intelligence through the manipulation of knowledge. For example, if a soldier yells “Duck!” as an enemy prepares to fire upon your squad. A member of your squad stands up, looking around and declaring “Where?!” A knowledgeable person will know what both versions of the word duck mean and understand the soldier’s reaction, but without intelligence, he/she will be unable to connect the situation with the reaction explain why it is funny.

Although I would love to say that everything that makes us laugh is humor, but this is not the case. Many times there are comedians that use fowl language and obscenities without wit or humor but still get laughs and chuckles due to their delivery. This, I believe comes more out of skill and practice of delivery rather than their intelligence. I might even dare say that the simplicity of the content or the low intelligence of the audience is to blame for the laughs. Humorous comedians like Seinfeld and comedy groups like Monty Python have skits almost devoid of simple delivery heavy techniques like swearing and obscenities and rely mostly on the audience putting 1 and 1 together.

I know what’s about to come up, But Ainion/Ronja! Many Monty Python skits have swearing and obscenities! … I know, I know, but their usage of the words/subjects encompass many forms of parody, satire and sarcasm rather than just adding the obscenities to get one or two chuckles.

Of course, it is a must to say that there are various forms of humor. Sticking to the two comedian examples above, Sienfeld has a tendency to use character and situational humor while the Monty Python group tends to utilize sarcasm, and satire. In comparison, one tends to stick to reality while the other focuses on a disconnect between their skits and reality, but the audience is still able to make the humorous connection in both styles.

For as a final note, I ask you all. What is your favorite type of humor and why? Also, if you disagree with anything I’ve posted here or have other examples, let me know in the comments. I’m interested in hearing other ideas!


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