The Fine Line Between Funny and Offensive Humor

06 July, 2020
What's a sense of humor? What's offensive humor? In general, humor highlights the ridiculous side of things and fulfills the task of showing that there are many ways to look at your reality. An insult is an expression the sender uses with the intention of hurting or offending another individual. What constitutes an insult or not is difficult to define as it varies in the various social and cultural conventions.

In this era when the line between funny and offensive humor is quite thin, you must keep in mind that humor fulfills the task of showing a different perspective. Irreverence is a healthy alternative to stiffness.

Humorous wit brings out the ridiculous side of things and does the job of showing that you can see reality from many perspectives. In contrast, an insult is an expression the sender uses with the intention of hurting or offending another. What constitutes an insult or not is hard to determine with precision. This is because it’s subject to social and cultural conventions.

Comedians always have, and will, remind us that, deep inside the mortal, often foolish, creatures humans can be at times, there’s also kindness and light. People are more worthy of love and compassion than the other way around. You could compare a person without a sense of humor to a car without springs and dampers. They’ll feel even the tiniest rocks on the road.

A cup of coffee with a smiley on it.
You must take life with love and humor; love is for understanding it and humor to bear it.

The importance of humor when facing adversity

The human being is conflicted by nature. Thus, you may experience fear and anxiety when faced with life circumstances. Studies indicate that people have the possibility of finding their own resources. Humans can adapt and arise as a consequence of conflict with strengths they never knew they had, both in calm situations and in those of great tension, crisis, or suffering. This possibility is what many authors designated as resilience (Rodríguez, 2007).

People who use humor as a coping strategy report fewer health problems than those who don’t use it. Humor is an innate ability and you can strengthen it through your environment.

When it comes to humor, it’s clear it doesn’t only occur in happy situations only, but also in tragic or adverse situations. A person may be conflicted when there’s a contradiction between a desired and an unwanted situation,. They can solve it, in part, with various creative humor resources, thus releasing dangerous emotions and presenting hopeful ideas. This is a sign that imagination is much more important than knowledge.

“This I conceive to be the chemical function of humor: to change the character of our thought.”

-Lin Yutang-

A happy brain.

Funny and offensive humor

Humor makes reality bearable. Imagination is a consolation to a human being for what you’re not, and a sense of humor comforts you for what you are. If anything, it keeps you from cycling around your old routine and takes you to never-before-suspected places.

Lucidity teaches that everything that isn’t tragic is laughable. The reality of humor can be defined in this phrase: the situation is desperate, but not serious. Everyone knows how to cry at birth, but everyone also needs to learn to laugh.

Sigmund Freud defined humor as the highest manifestation of the adaptation mechanisms of an individual. It isn’t only a fun question but also a way of knowing reality. Humor and irony help you discover many things in the world; they would remain hidden without them.

As a tribute to humor, it’s worth remembering the people who’ve died from it. The attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine, is one of the most recent memories of intolerance, linked to someone’s lack of humor. Twelve journalists were killed for their sense of humor.

Finally, you won’t stop living situations that go beyond all reasoning and logic. More and more comedians are receiving serious threats due to their comedy routines. Faced with this, you must remember the function of humor and how necessary it is to build a healthy society. Perhaps all these events will put things in perspective. Everyone should know and understand once and for all that “after all, everything is a joke”. Right, Charlie Chaplin?

  • McGhee, P. E., & Pistolesi, E. (1979). Humor: Its origin and development (p. 208). San Francisco: WH Freeman.
  • Nezlek, JB, y Derks, P. (2001). Uso del humor como mecanismo de afrontamiento, ajuste psicológico e interacción social. Humor14 (4), 395-414.
  • Quiñones Rodríguez, M. A. (2007). Resilencia‐Resignificación Creativa de la Adversidad. Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Colombia.