Laughter, they say, is the best medicine and comedy is one thing that has brought smiles to people’s faces for a long time. Dark humour is a subgenus of comedy and can be traced originally back to the ancient Greek days. Nevertheless, we are not here to discuss about the origin of dark humour we are only here to explain why it is one of the most discussed sub-genre of comedy and why it provokes extreme reactions out of individuals.
Dark humour for people who do not understand what it really means is just that part of humour that makes fun out of things that are meant to be taken seriously, things that are sad, or even taboo.
Now let’s take it from the very top. The reason for the fame of dark humour is that an individual’s reaction to things that are tragic or dark is deeply rooted in that individual’s mentality. The reaction to stuff like this necessarily mustn’t be of laughter, but there just has to be a reaction.
Take for example a guy is walking down the street, looking at his phone, holding a cup of coffee and then bumps into someone else and pours the coffee on the other person mistakenly. A lot of people might try to help and say sorry while some others might find is very funny.
A more severe scenario would be of a person who gets into a car accident, and his car gets completely damaged. Now a lot of people will stop to ask what has happened, not with the intention of helping but will still ask how the accident happened and maybe take pictures.
There is an explanation for such behaviour, and that explanation is that nothing captures the interest of humans more than a human tragedy.
It has even been dictated by a clinical psychologist that a person who loves dark jokes easily has a higher IQ.
The reason is quite simple. It is obvious that it would take a certain level of intelligence for a person to normalise something that is tragic using humour and to also feed a thought into the brain with that same humour so that it would stick. This is not an easy process.
Understanding dark humour is a complex information process, and it would require the reader or listener to clearly see the multiple meanings that are intended in the writing or joke and also maintain an emotional distance from the content. The inability of a person to understand a dark joke as intended and also distance themselves emotionally from the content would lead to a hostile reaction rather than laughter.
When the humour is done right it can do as much as break barriers and even challenge prejudice. A couple of comics have used dark humour to snatch power off the hands of individuals who use racial slangs to dehumanise an entire community of people. There are even some new aged comics featuring disabled people and even making fun of their stereotype and disabilities just to make people see things differently.
If the above is the case, why are some people upset about dark humor
Dark humour covers misfortune, misery, or tragedy. The fact that a person makes fun of such things that you have experienced or even suffered just takes all the front part away from it. Albeit it might even bring back some of the memories, you’re trying to let go off.
On some occasions even if you haven’t suffered through any of these tragedies you still might get offended because you probably know someone who has or you are very sensitive to certain words. That sensitivity and trigger would cloud your mind and stripped the fun out of the dark joke and you won’t be able to process the actual joke in the statement. The pain of the anger would prevent you from seeing the humour and understanding what the person is trying to say as initially intended.
So there is the joke and then there is how the joke is presented. Almost all of us have seen looney tunes, tom and jerry, and a host of other cartoons where characters are made to suffer some of the most horrific forms of injuries repeatedly. However because of the way this sad things are presented we end up laughing.
And though the characters do not use words that may provoke any reaction out of people, not to mention the repeated goofy music that is used to keep viewers at ease and allow us enjoy what we are watching and understand it as intended, it is still some kind of dark humor.
Sometimes the negative reaction to dark humour is also the fault of the comic. Some comics forget that there is something called “too soon” and that is a mistake they make a lot of times. People can easily laugh their guts out when they hear jokes about the Holocaust story even the 9/11 because the emotional impact and effect of that tragedy has been healed over a period of time. Be certain that the same people who would laugh at a 9/11 joke would be very upset if a joke was made about a school shooting.
What the above seeks to explain is that it takes time for people to process a tragedy and let go of the sad memories so much so that a joke about it can become funny to them. Most people will not find any joke made on soldiers funny because those are innocent and brave souls who have sacrificed leaving the people they love and all the things they love just to go to war for the sake of protecting the larger community. So if someone comes to you and makes a dark joke about a soldier who went to war and passed on leaving his wife at home, you wouldn’t find it funny because you know deep down how much that would hurt. And the person would be viewed as irresponsible for making such a joke.
Speaking on an individual level, every human has a varied sensitivity level irrespective of time yes we agree that comedy is tragedy plus time but also it is important to know that politics and cultural environment play a large role as well. An environment where you have people who are well educated and well read is likely to have more people who can enjoy dark jokes.
If you’re going to make any dark jokes, make sure to do so with caution and also be sure of the audience you have before going ahead to make such jokes. We would like to know your thoughts and opinions on why people respond to dark jokes the way they do. Please feel free to write us via the comment section below