Yes, but not everyone has the same sense of humour to share, and some may even lack a sense of humour completely.

I wrote this article on Medium some months ago, because I was stunned by the differences between our Aussie sense of humour and that of the Americans whom I met on the platform. Ours is more influenced by English irony and satire, whereas theirs is closer to slapstick, is situationally based and uses exaggeration for effect. I’ve long enjoyed exploring differences between cultures, but I wasn’t prepared for the implications of this difference.

I used the American spelling, “humor” instead of “humour”, but I have reverted to the English forms here.

Humour can bind two people together

One of the things I liked about my partner when I first met him was his sense of humor. We are both Aussies and our sense of humor is similar. Sometimes a little on the dark side, closer to irony and to English humor than to belly laughs. Although that can be great too.

Lately it has verged, from time to time, onto a “Dad style” sort of humor. No matter, as we are both ageing well together. I can’t always hear what he is saying, and he can’t always see things clearly.

Humour can keep us apart

Our son, when he reached 19, married a woman who lacked a sense of humor. This did not bode well for our family structure. We tried and failed to bridge the gap. He lost his sense of humor and we are still estranged. that is the sad side of differences. There always remains hope for the future, of course.

Humour as Therapy

The good thing about humor is that it can save you from depression. There are laughter platforms and podcasts where you can forget about your woes and let it rip! Humor is the best remedy for sadness that exists. Forget irony and allow a belly laugh to burst forth!

One of our low budget Aussie movies, The Castle, based on a type of humor that is typical in our culture, still enables us to guffaw each time we view aspects of the dialogue. See Wikipedia:

Humour can kill

The French journalists who joked about the Islam religion learnt the hard way that humor can kill, when radical Izlamists stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people in Paris in 2015. And a whole movement sprang up in France and around the world in support of freedom of speech.

In 2011, the magazine was attacked by a petrol bomb after it ran a special Arab Spring edition entitled “Sharia Hebdo” that included a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover as “guest editor.” It read, “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!” International Business Times (IBM) 2015

Cultural Differences with Humour

Slapstick humor can be funny, but I was brought up on a diet of English satire and ironic dry humor. Try explaining irony to someone from a different culture. It’s hard. Like all humor, you just have to “get it” or not. Explaining jokes never works.

I realize, since writing on Medium, that one of the things that separates me from some others on this platform, is humor. I often just don’t often want clarity and help, not humor. And an element of irony is that there are usually two sides to it, as there is to everything.

Different Senses of Humour

I lived in France for five years when I was quite young. But I never got used to the Gallic sense of humor. I think it’s quite intellectual. Some of the French movies I really loved, but not so much their comedies.

I tried to tell a joke once to an American friend and it fell flat on its face. Perhaps it was my delivery! That’s another important aspect of humor.

I know now that there are different types of humor even within a culture. I appreciate a Jewish sense of humor, in which jokes can be very funny even to the uninitiated, if told properly by a Jewish person.

Humour Can Be Cruel

Often humor is directed against others. It can be a kind of personal attack. Some journalists and politicians use it to gain status and notoriety. One of our funniest prime ministers was Paul Keating, who said some of the most remembered one liners and funny sayings, usually directed against his opponents. Acerbic humor was one of Keating’s traits.

“Can a soufflé rise twice?” was his response to a question about Andrew Peacock‘s return to power.

Humour can be enlightening

It is said in Tibetan Buddhism for Westerners that, once monks become enlightened, they roll around on the floor, laughing great belly laughs about the pettiness and stress of life. This happens when they realize “truth” and come face-to-face with the real meaning of emptiness. This suggests that humor is akin to spirituality, at least in Buddhist terms.

Humor is multi-faceted, that’s for sure. It can be dark, slapstick, ironic, satirical, sarcastic, threatening, intellectual and even spiritual.

Take Away

I’ll finish by adding that I never really understood American humour while on Medium, even though I met some very special people there. Nor did I improve greatly with digital expertise, which often left me feeling like the dummy in the class. And yet my experience underlined for me the particular niche and niches that I wish to explore through creative writing. And it’s not digital, although I intend to continue to learn and to improve.

Feature Photo: Ape and woman sharing a joke? Pixabay