Humor breakdown: the different classes of humor

Anything from sending the wrong text message to tripping in public can be classified as embarrassing humor. Feeling like an idiot or making some sort of mistake usually makes people feel self-conscious and extremely uncomfortable. In these awkward situations the humiliation of the individual is often highly amusing, causing others to laugh.

Offensive humor is not for the faint-hearted, as it involves topics such as family, stereotypes, race, gender or physical appearance that people are typically sensitive toward. However, offensive jokes put a lighter note on tense subjects people usually try to avoid, allowing people to poke fun at topics that are otherwise rather serious under normal circumstances. People find these jokes entertaining because they give us the opportunity to laugh about situations that don’t include us, and sometimes we find it even funnier when they do.

Sarcasm is probably the most common type of humor- it captures the witty and exaggerated comments that we often make in casual conversation. Tone is the key element to a sarcastic comment and can be used as a clever way of disguising insults by ridiculing and mocking people through cutthroat remarks. While often unfriendly or ridiculing, the sarcastic element gives statements a certain playfulness by overstating something.

It is not common that people are comfortable talking about sex-related topics. Sometimes it is easier to confront these awkward topics through humor. Sexual jokes are funny because they portray exaggerated yet realistic situations, such as sexual accidents, awkward noises, being caught off guard, not knowing what to do etc. Because sex is a generally risque subject, the use of innuendos and implicative creativity in describing sexual acts, thoughts or situations allows the audience to additionally appreciate the humorous nature of a joke or comment.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “It’s only funny until someone gets hurt… then it’s hilarious!” Seeing others suffer or get hurt is often funny because of the pleasure we derive from watching others’ misfortune. It sometimes acts as an ego boost to watch other people make fools of themselves, especially in cases that involve physical pain. Simple acts like running into doors or getting hit in the head with a ball are so unexpected and silly that people cannot help but laugh or think, “Thank goodness it wasn’t me.”