December 1, 2018

Food for Thought

There is something funny about humor—“funny” as in odd, strange, and inexplicable. For instance, why don’t schools teach humor? Most elementary schools offer classes in music and art, but not humor. It can’t be because humor is less valuable in life. In fact, I would argue that it is more valuable than art and music. The majority of people never create art or music as adults. In contrast, far more people use their sense of humor as a skill in a variety of social situations.

But what could a humor class look like? How would someone teach humor? A comedian can teach how to deliver a joke effectively but could he teach someone how to be funny? The truth of the matter is that even art teachers are not actually teaching how to make art; they can only teach the technical skills involved in art. Even if you disagree on this, you would probably agree that teaching how to create something beautiful is just as hard as teaching how to write something funny.

One of the reasons humor is more difficult to teach is that it is brutal. If someone shows you a piece of painting, you could easily lie and say it’s great. You can’t do that with a joke. If it’s not funny, even if you try to laugh, it would sound obviously fake. Conversely, if it’s funny, it would be hard to contain your laughter.  With humor, you cannot help but be brutally honest. This means, before you can learn how to be funny, you have to be capable of handling rejections, as it’s not possible for all your jokes to be funny to everyone. The upside of learning to be funny is that, even if you fail to be funny, at least you will learn how to handle rejections. In other words, you will be able to laugh at yourself. Perhaps that’s more important in life than being funny.

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