Humor is awesome. I truly believe that humor is the most powerful force on this planet (after, of course, Mr. Rance Davis). Well-placed and well-crafted humor produces laughter as well as snorting sounds that can either be adorable or the most annoying thing you have ever heard (but still appreciated). If you can get someone to laugh, you can make friends, attract a mate, become better at partying, and most importantly, bring happiness to others. Humor can unify a group of strangers and produce a sense of acceptance within people who may have trouble fitting in.
Perhaps humor’s most powerful quality is that once you can laugh at a problem or an obstacle, it becomes less powerful and less difficult to deal with. Among others, Richard Pryor (a black man), got America to laugh at the topic of racism in the 1970s. If you have never heard of him, I’d recommend skipping whatever commitment you currently need to attend to and binge on Pryor. Once Pryor’s audience understood that the topic was not an insurmountable challenge that could not be changed, but rather just another thing that could be laughed at, it became weaker. If people can laugh about just how silly racism is, it becomes a lot less powerful and popular of an idea, and then people can work to further weaken a societal problem. Today, comics are breaking grounds on issues of homophobia as well as extremism in all of its forms with jokes!
There is, however, a difference between this humor that I am talking about and the Oscar Mayer bologna stuff that may produce laughter, but comes out of cruelty. Teasing others because they are different from you is not humor, but rather cowardice. Pointing out the differences among people and being critical of them while removing their dignity is when someone’s jokes cross the line between humor and cruelty.
Think about it like this (oh yeah, it’s a thought experiment…get excited): A bunch of vegetables are sitting in one collective basket. There are peas, carrots, lettuce, onions, and other vegetables. One zucchini is telling jokes as is often the case with zucchinis, as they are the funniest vegetables (this is common knowledge (I don’t even know why I mentioned this)). Well, the zucchini keeps going on and on about the broth: “Why do they even call it ‘broth’? It doesn’t ‘broth’ anything! They should call it: ‘veggie bubbly.’” You all may not find this funny, but this is hysterical amongst the vegetable community. Then the zucchini starts making fun of carrots for being orange, saying that no self-respecting vegetable is orange. Now that zucchini is a giant jerk and is no longer funny.
The point is, humor has to be tolerant or else it just becomes laughter producing cruelty. You can be funny without having a victim. The one exception is self-deprecating humor, because this can do to your insecurity about your feet what Pryor did to racism.
Please note that I’m still cracking up from that zucchini’s broth joke.