According to the Oxford Dictionary ‘humour’ is the quality of being amusing or comic, especially in literature or speech.

What is it that determinates something to be funny?

There are many factors leading to the humoristic outcome. The main ingredient is ‘incongruity’ or in other words mismatch facts in a way they are not expected to appear, breaking the social pattern. Humour conquer interpersonal relationships, without the fundamental, shared understanding is almost impossible to build any social boundaries. Having similar sense of humour shows similarities in the character, opinions and interests, therefore people laughing at same stuff are more likely to become friends. On the other hand, these who don’t join are seen rather as an outsider and creating around themselves personal distance. As just established humour is social which means that is also culturally specific and it doesn’t always translate through different languages and nationalities.  

“Laughter and humour are indeed like an invitation, be it invitation for dinner, or an invitation to start a conversation: it aims at decreasing social distance.”

(Coser 1959, p. 172, cited by Kupiers 2009, p.222).

Kupiers used this citation from Coser to show another aspect of the humour which is proverbial ‘breaking the ice’. Humour is a perfect to relive the tension or keep the conversation going in awkward situations (e.g. strangers meet).

“All comedy has humour, but not all humour is comedy”[i]. Comedy would never exist without humour, as it brings the factor of laughter. The difference is that comedy is a planned entertainment, every word and action has been staged and calculated to make us laugh; humour is not planned and it makes us laugh in any situation.  Comedy is attempted when humour just happens.

Humour would not exist without recognition. Sympathising with a character through our emotional responses and reactions. This is another attribute of humour often used in ‘Slapstick’ which is based on performed incompetence, often followed by infliction and suffering of pain without actual anguish.

There is a duality that applies to humour, as mentioned above it has got ability to conquer relationships, but it has also can built the distance while laughing at. It can offense as well as amusement. Many jokes have got a target: group of people, individual, object, ideas, religions etc.

There aren’t any set boundaries, however in my opinion there are some ethical topics that should never be joked about like for example race or nationality. Especially in 21st century when people are being over sensitive at every aspect. Obviously, there are some exceptions and people within a specific group are more appropriate to make a joke at that group, as this shows self-distance and healthy banter. The most important is to read the public and situation, then no unwanted awkward situation will be created.



The meme analysis:

There is a great dose of humour in this meme, however it would make sense only to people who know rules of chest game. There is a use of an iconic personas – the queen and the bishop; both of these exist as the figures in the chest board game. The caption suggests that the queen kills bishop in her next move. The meme would not be as funny if people used there were not known and recognisable by everyone. However making fun of the royal family may feel for some highly inappropriate, therefore the joke could not appeal to everyone, even make them feel cringe.  

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