Your sense of humor is affected by your personality, gender, and even your level of intelligence. Will we ever enjoy universal agreement on funny movies or funny jokes?
Funny movies, funny jokes, and funny people can all depend on one thing: you. One person’s laughter is another’s wry “hardy har har.” One person’s best knee slapper joke of all time is another’s lawsuit for sexual harassment.
Humor is no laughing matter.
Humor is really difficult to pull off! It’s hard to make people laugh because our senses of humor are so different. Writing humor can be painful (not just painfully funny); and writing about humor can be like pulling teeth.
But when you produce even a chuckle, the pain is worth it.
Humor to relieve workplace stress
Making a joke or finding the comedy in a stressful situation at work is like taking a mental break. Even (or especially) black humor can lighten the situation; for instance, paramedics can focus on the irony or humor in the situation. This actually sharpens their focus and cognitive abilities. The jokes paramedics tell can be funny or offensive, depending on your perspective and sense of humor.
Is this a funny joke?
On January 1, two paramedics were cleaning up the brains and body of a man who shot himself in the head. Paramedic One: “Well, I guess he got a bang out of the new year!”
Whether you find this funny or offensive (or just boring) not only depends on your personality, it could also be affected by your experiences with suicide or your job. Maybe your dad killed himself with a shotgun; maybe you’ve cleaned up more suicide’d bodies than you care to remember.
Your job can change your sense of humor – you could cross over to the dark side. For instance, one PhD student studied more than 70 emergency-care personnel (paramedics included) and found a change in humor styles. The majority of the subjects went from ethnic and sexual jokes at the beginning of their training to black humor at the end. The more experienced the paramedic, the “sicker” their humor was – generally speaking, of course. (Source: Psychology Today).
The same is often seen on tv. Coroners or medical examiners who perform autopsies often make jokes about the body, or eat sandwiches while leaning against the table on which the body rests.
Black or sick humor can serve as a defense against scary or even heartbreaking situations. It switches your focus from the tragic to the tragically comical, from sad to silly. Seeing the irony or humor in even the bleakest situation can help you master situations and environments. In fact, some emergency personnel believe that coworkers who don’t joke around seem more high strung, touchier, and more likely to burn out.
Laughter boosts health
Noticing the funny parts of bad situations changes the chemicals in your brain and elevates your mood. It even relieves physiological or body tension and boosts immunity! When you laugh or chuckle, your insides “go jogging” – and a little extra exercise never hurts!