You are chatting with a co-worker at the water cooler, when he kicks you in the shins! Then he grins and says, “Just kidding.”
What is your response?
- You smile and laugh along.
- You call 911 and press assault charges.
- Or you chuckle as human resources escorts him out, while he yells, “Can’t anyone take a joke?”
No, the phrase “just kidding,” does not magically turn injuries or insults funny. If only humor were that easy. The problem is that the sting lingers, like a nasty stain on a favorite jacket. It may not be possible to wash it out again.
Professional Comedians Use Insulting Humor
Yes, it’s true that professional comedians often use insults to get a laugh, but they don’t have to interact with the insulted recipient after the show.
Or if they do, they can hide behind the security personnel while running to their car.
Why do they use insulting humor at all? Because, if you say something shockingly rude, people will laugh simply because they are surprised that you even said such a naughty thing.
It works best with people who are too inebriated to remember that you already said a swear word, so they enjoy the “I can’t believe he really said that” moment again and again and again.
Since it’s easy to use four-letter words and to complain about other people’s personal habits, this kind of humor has become common in American nightclubs. Some people, poor ignorant souls (there I just insulted them), don’t know any other form of joke.
“Dang, if we can’t even make fun of the way multi-gender Venusians parallel park, what’s left to make of anyway?”
I didn’t mean to imply that multi-gender immigrants from Venus can’t park! Put those antennae back DOWN! Some of my best friends are multi-gender Venusians and I would even let them drive my car.
Honest! In conclusion, put-downs of an individual or a group are never a good choice.
There is one exception that we’ll talk about next time.