The truth about jokes

Published Jul 20, 2014, 5:43 am IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 6:16 pm IST
Picture used for representational purpose. (Photo: AFP/File)
 Picture used for representational purpose. (Photo: AFP/File)

Mumbai: There is a grain of truth in every joke, a joke is either truth wrapped in a “don’t take me seriously” smile or it subtly exposes one’s deeply hidden strong beliefs. Many jokes are hostile and sarcastic jokes in particular are laced with an uncomfortable truth and indicate an underlying anger or hostility that seek escape. Even jokes made on oneself are an attempt at humbling an otherwise supremely overconfident persona.

Many jokes are sexual in nature, which may indicate something about the person’s unconscious sexual desire, which he outwardly might be embarrassed about. Sex is used to sell nearly everything from soap to toothpaste because it is one of the most basic instincts known to humans.

Sarcasm is, in all likelihood, the most popular form of humour today and you just have to see the numerous television programmes that use sarcasm to drive their point home, against both politicians and celebrities. Many use humour to confront a person about something they find disagreeable.

If the individual confronts them they can always back off and say they were just joking. This is used to deflect responsibility back on the person who was the butt of the joke, stating that he is just being sensitive. In this manner, those using sarcasm in a hostile manner are able to express displeasure without taking responsibility for it.

In this light, one can say there is truth in humour. But because there are underlying motives does that mean there is truth in all humour? I think it really comes down to how you define truth. If you have a thought and it comes out in a joke, does that make it true? Or should thoughts be evaluated for truth?

In the course of the day a person is said to have between 12,000 and 70,000 thoughts. That is quite a range. Even at the lower number, is it possible that all 12,000 thoughts are true? The definition of truth is what becomes the arguing point.

But, if like me you contend that thoughts are too disparate to discern the exact meaning, then there isn’t always truth in a joke. It was simply a thought, stemming from any number of drives, ego states, or neuron firings, and, therefore, is only true upon its evaluation.

Jokes are an excellent part of life even if they are at someone else’s expense. Laughter leads to increased pleasure, enhanced enjoyment, and a much happier life and is probably the next best thing to sex. So as long as most of us can laugh I think it’s okay for a few to cry, I mean those who are on the receiving end of the joke. The last line is a joke. Or maybe it’s not. And that’s for you jokers to decide.



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