The Theories of Humor

Impractical Jokers is joke reality show that was premiered on TruTV based on coercion where pranks were done on the public under hidden cameras. The show is unique in that the stars are not aware of their roles till the moment when they are showcasing it with the strangers. The show outlines the instances of humor and the different reactions by a verse strange audience. Both the pranksters and the innocent audience react differently. Laughing to human beings may be the funniest – funny strange experience (Morreall, 2009). Humor can impact either positively or negatively to an individual. For instance, it not only breaks the conversation rules, but also expresses hostility or contempt towards an individual (Morreall, 2009). The reality show is instrumental in depicting the three theories of humor, which are the superiority theory, the relief theory, and the incongruity theory.

Superiority theory outlines humor with a feeling of superiority or triumph. By so doing, the people laugh down at those who perform below them. According to the superiority theory, individuals do laugh at others misfortunes, failures, clowning, incompetence, and clumsiness. Humor expressions often are displayed after a rise in glory, whereby some individuals are superior compared to the fellow humans. In this aspect, humor is used to humiliate. Some human conditions are humiliating ,making this theory to be common and often disregarding humanity by way of humiliating the inferior. However, humanity and feeling of self-pity often counter this thinking of humor, according to the superiority theory. For instance, in a comedy show, some individuals laugh at some episodes, while others find nothing funny at all. An explanation for this ought to do with the superiority essence, whereby some have stronger defense against humiliating conditions than others. Another way is humor can be used as a way of displaying societal truths in a humorous way without victimization. Those with some witty behaviors are brought to their self-awareness by way of humor in a less humiliating manner.

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Relief theory paints humor as an emotional product, which helps in relieving tension for instance in a comedy. People react to funny clips or episodes by laughing. Humor helps in releasing energy due to some emotional build up. It is instrumental for relief purposes whereby people laugh in order to release their superfluous energy. It may be in form of the emotional aspects curtailed in the different thoughts and feelings. The theory presents the energies being instrumental for humor as comics or jokes. Laughter is discharged after such humor is presented. When truth is enhanced, humiliation may become a factor.

The relief theory is thus problematic and as the virtue or importance with that of meaning are conflicting (Morreall, 2009). Humor can be used as a defense mechanism whereby individuals present some truths which may be hurting. The relief theory thus presents humor as a vehicle of truth which is often discharged by way of laughter. In such instances, much time is consumed in humor, whereas a momentary glance is given to the truth. It helps in dealing with the humiliation aspect in a responsible way.

Incongruity theory on its part is mostly accepted, since it takes consideration of the human patterns which are acceptable. As individuals experience violation to the patterns or do not fit on their provisions, it creates humor, and people laugh. Majority aspects of the incongruity theory do not result in humor. For instance, the disorders that exist in nature or wayward behavior among individuals are incongruous and may cause a feeling of anger, pain, or sadness. This theory is part of the day-to-day encounters of life, since many occurrences in life happen out of expectations. The human conditions are usually not met in the modern world; thus, the incongruity theory forms basis of human existence.

In accordance with the incongruity theory an individual can perceive humor in three ways. Firstly, they think or imagine an object to be incongruous. Secondly, they enjoy imagining or thinking about the object, and thirdly, the person enjoys the perceived or thought incongruity partly for itself and not the reason behind it. With this regard, humor comprises of the incongruity perceptions of individuals. Kant, however, presented the irrational aspects of objection of humor resulting from jokes (Morreall, 2009).

Individuals can react to incongruity by way of amusement, puzzlement or expression of negative emotions. The tension and uneasiness result from the dissatisfaction with things as they are and often are considered to be a resultant of the continuity of evolution. Amusement, on the other hand, is primarily a human reaction to the incongruity aspects. The negative emotions among humans results from the unpleasant feelings and painful experiences, which may be due to anger, regret, fear, shame, and jealousy. Humans being are bothered by violations of the order of things and, as a result, exhibit the above negative emotions.



Morreall, J. (2009). Comic relief: A comprehensive philosophy of humor. Wiley.

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