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Humor what is. - Sijia Hao English 125 Section 099 Short 14...

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Sijia Hao English 125 – Section 099 Short 14 December 2010 :D “What did the clock do when it was hungry? It went back four seconds!” Just about everyone who comprehends English would find the aforementioned joke amusing, or at least recognize its intended comedic value. All of mankind universally and instinctually uses humor (Polimeni). Every minute of every day, whether between friends, family, lovers, or strangers, humor occurs in all forms all around the world. The familiarity and commonality of the experience deceives people into thinking that they understand its components and functions. To most, humor must be “funny”, capable of eliciting the nearly- involuntary physical convulsion known as laughter that causes people to feel a warm happiness throughout. Very few people stop to give much thought to all the dimensions and implications of humor. Most would fail to coherently describe the exact components that make something humorous; although people may laugh at the clock joke, they most likely cannot articulate the reason behind their amusement. The many distinctly different types of humor and people’s own subjective tastes of what they personally think to be funny makes explaining themselves even more difficult. Recently, psychologists, linguists, and philosophers have begun researching the necessary characteristics for a stimulus to be universally “funny”. Over the years, various scholars have studied the universality and pervasiveness of humor, forming postulations of its meaning and its implications on society as a whole.
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An ancient art that dates back to prehistoric times, humor has evolved continuously as different cultures used it to suit their unique purposes. Anthropologists first documented the age of humor using the Australian aboriginals. During a field study, they observed that the aboriginals engaged in humorous conversation. Assuming that humor has a genetic component, the anthropologists used information showing the Australians have been genetically isolated for at least 35,000 years to date the earliest uses of humor back to at least 35,000 years ago (Polimini). Thousands of years later, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome followed Aristotle’s categorization to recognize comedy, the socially-constructed manifestation of humor, as a legitimate genre of literature (Aristotle). Their widespread use of comedy in poetry and theater not only provided amusement but also satirized social norms and political standpoints of the time (Matthews). Ancient “clowns” did not wear the modern white face-paint or red button nose; instead they were court jesters with witty personalities who served as comedic performers to entertain royalty in ancient courts in many cultures, from Egypt in 2500 B.C.E. to China since 1818 B.C.E. to the Aztecs in 1520 C.E. (Johnson). Early clown influences spurred the French mime tradition and the development of the Japanese Kabuki clown theater. In America, early sketch humor incorporated both the theatrical aspect of the Greeks and Romans and the humorous “clown” characters of the ancient courts (Weinand).
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