We spent the last week in English focusing on humor. The packet my teacher gave us consisted of several quotes from different people, but they usually had something in common. They said that humor derived from some type of despair. One of the quotes was from Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, “Happiness, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.” For me, it just made the thought of laughing so much more horrible. It’s not particularly happiness, but in reality some type of hidden depression.
Well, this brings up the question, what are we really laughing at? We are a twisted society that gets encouraged by the failure of others. As Mark Twain said, “Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor is sorrow not joy.” Other people’s failures make ourselves feel successful. We think, “Hey, at last I’m not that person.” It reminds me of an old T.V Show that showed on Disney Channel, American Dragon: Jake Long. On that show there were a pair of twins that saw the future. Those two were completely opposite, one being always gloomy while the other was annoying peppy. The reason for the two personalities was that one would only see the bad futures of a person while the saw the good futures. One might think the person seeing the bad futures is the gloomy twin, but it was the exact opposite. The gloomy twin only saw fortunate events, while the peppy only saw misfortunes. The reason why the peppy twin was always so happy was because she saw the misfortunes of others, and it made her feel good about herself.
Quite a surprising and depressing revelation but most definitely not false. We even come to face these situations in T.V shows such as Wipe Out or America’s Funniest Home Videos, or that weird Youtube video of the guy jumping into the a frozen pool. When coming across people running into doors, pieces of furniture breaking, and faces smacking the ground, why do we laugh? The normal answer would be, “Because it’s funny.”