The Theories of Humor v

Impractical Jokers is a coercion-based joke reality show that launched on TruTV in which pranks were performed on the public in front of hidden cameras. The performance is unique in that the stars are unaware of their parts until they are performing them in front of strangers. The play depicts incidents of hilarity and the various reactions of a diverse audience. Both the pranksters and the unwitting audience have varied reactions. Laughing at humans may be the most amusing - amusing odd experience (Morreall 1947: 2). Humor can have a positive or negative impact on an individual.  For instance, humor not only breaks the conversation rules but also expresses hostility or contempt towards an individual (pg 5). The reality show is instrumental in depicting the three theories of humor which are the superiority theory, the relief theory and the incongruity theory.

Superiority theory outlines humor with a feeling of superiority or triumph. This way the people laugh down at those who perform below them. According to the superiority theory, individuals do laugh at others misfortunes, failures, clowning, incompetence and clumsiness. Humor expressions often are displayed after a rise in glory whereby some individuals are superior compared to the fellow humans. Humor with this aspect is used to humiliate. Some human conditions are humiliating making this theory to be common and often disregard humanity by way of humiliating the inferior. However, humanity and feeling of self-pity often counter this thinking of humor according to the superiority theory. For instance in a comedy show, some individuals laugh at some episodes while other find nothing funny at all. An explanation for this ought to do with the superiority essence whereby some have stronger defense against humiliating conditions than others. Another way is humor can be use as a way of displaying societal truths in a humorous way without victimization. Those with some witty behaviors are brought to their self awareness by way of humor in a less humiliating manner.

Relief theory paints humor as an emotional product which helps in relieving tension for instance in a comedy. People react to funny clips or episodes by laughing. Humor helps in releasing energy due to some emotional build up. Humor is instrumental for relief purposes whereby people laugh in order to release their superfluous energy. This maybe in formed of the emotional aspects curtailed in the different thoughts and feelings. The theory presents the energies being instrumental for humor as comics or jokes. Laughter is discharged after such humor is presented. When truth is enhanced, humiliation may become a factor.

The relief theory is thus problematic and as the virtue or importance with that of meaning are conflicting (pg 20). Humor can be used as a defense mechanism whereby individuals present some truths which may be hurting. The relief theory thus present humor as a vehicle of truth which is often discharged buy way of laughter. In such instances much time is consumed in humor whereas a momentary glance is given to the truth. This helps in dealing with the humiliation aspect in a responsible way.

Incongruity theory on her part is mostly accepted since it takes consideration of the human patterns which are acceptable. As individuals experience violation to the patterns or do not fit on their provisions, it creates humor and people laugh. Majority aspects of the incongruity theory do not result in humor. For instance, the disorders that exist in nature or wayward behavior among individuals are incongruous and may cause a feeling of anger, pain or sadness. This theory is part of the day to day encounters of life since many occurrences in life happens out of expectations. The human conditions are usually not met in the everyday’s world and thus the incongruity theory forms basis of human existence.

In accordance with the incongruity theory an individual can perceive humor in three ways: first they think or imagine an object to be incongruous, secondly they enjoy imagining or thinking about the object and thirdly the person enjoys the perceived or thought incongruity partly for itself and not the reason behind it. With this regard humor comprises of the incongruity perceptions of individuals. Kant however presented the irrational aspects of objection of humor resulting from jokes (pg 13).

Individuals can react to incongruity by way of amusement, puzzlement or expression of negative emotions. The tension and uneasiness result from the dissatisfaction with things as they are and often are considered to be a resultant of the continuity of evolution. Amusement on the other hand is primarily a human reaction to the incongruity aspects. The negative emotions among humans results from the unpleasant feelings and painful experiences which may be due to anger, regret, fear, shame and jealousy. Humans being are bothered by violations of the order of things and as a result exhibit the above negative emotions.

Work Cited

Morreall, J. Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor, 1947, ISBN 978-1-4051-9612-3

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