What Makes A Joke Funny?

The answer to this question is a bit like the answer to "What makes a woman beautiful?" -- it depends on who you ask. Some people think that jokes are funny because they're clever, others say they're funny because of their shock value and still others believe that humour comes from incongruity or surprise. But what do we really know about laughter? And why does it make us feel so good?





In this article, we'll look at some of the theories behind humour and find out how our brains process jokes in order to understand why laughter feels so good. We'll also take a look at some famous studies on comedy and learn how researchers have used brain imaging technology to study what happens when someone laughs out loud.


First let's start with an examination of one theory about humour -- incongruity theory (also known as cognitive dissonance). According to this idea, something is funny if there's an inconsistency between two things or events; for example, if you see someone slip on ice while carrying groceries into his house in July.


The fact that he fell over doesn't seem right given the circumstances (it should be warm outside), which creates confusion for your mind until you realise he slipped due simply due his own clumsiness rather than any unusual weather conditions.


Another popular explanation for comedy involves Freudian psychology -- specifically Freud's concept of repression (the unconscious suppression) followed by release through joking behaviour.


In other words, laughing allows us to temporarily escape from our inhibitions without having actually done anything wrong! This may explain why many comedians use sexual innuendo as part-of their act since sex has long been considered taboo subject matter among polite society but can be quite humorous once released through joking behavior.


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