Humour: Definition, Examples & Meaning

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      Humour is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the humoral medicine of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humors, controlled human health and emotion. People of all ages and cultures respond to humor. Most people are able to experience humor being amused, smile or laughing at something funny - and thus are considered to have a sense of humor. In literature, humor is a literary tool that makes audience laugh, or that intends to induce amusement or laughter. Its purpose is to break the monotony, boredom and tedium, and make the audience’s nerves relaxed. The writer uses different techniques, tools, words and even full sentences in order to bring to light the new and funny sides of life. Humor is often found in literature, theater, movies and advertising, where the major purpose is to make the readers and the audience happy.

      Humor is comprised of three components: wit, mirth, and laughter. Wit is the cognitive experience, mirth the emotional experience, and laughter the physiological experience. Humor is a quality of perception that enables us to experience joy even when faced with adversity.

      Stress is an adverse condition during which we may experience tension or fatigue, feel unpleasant emotions and sometimes develop a sense of hopelessness or futility. For good example of humor, we can refer to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain:

“No, don’t you worry; these country jakes won’t ever think of that. Besides, you know, you’ll be in costume, and that makes all the difference in the world; Juliet’s in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight before she goes to bed, and she’s got on her night-gown and her ruffled nightcap. Here are the costumes for the parts.”

      In this example, the duke is unable to notice the silliness of his own actions; instead, he makes comments on the low level of understanding of the country jakes.

      However, the enjoyment of humor depends upon situation or person to person. In some situations, what is humorous to one person may not be so for another. For example, imagine a situation where one person laughs at another for his appearance, attire, etc. In such a context, although it may be humorous for one individual, it may be painful for another. This is why it is essential to be conscious of people’s background, culture, appearance, religion, and similar factors when generating humor at the expense of others.

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