Re: Humor? (was) genetic unselfishness

From: Doug Jones (
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 10:39:18 MST

Dana Hedberg wrote:
> wrote:
> > It's often a "surprise mechanism" that triggers laughter, not only cruelty
> > and oddities.
> One of the things that has received a lot of recent attention has been
> the primary factors responsible for eliciting a laugh, or feeling of
> mirth, when perceiving a specific situation. And the "surprise
> mechanism" you mention above seems to be one of the major contributors.
> People have a certain expectation, or schema, with which they use to
> heuristically predict how a situation should go ("garden pathing" is a
> very simplistic example of this). When this schema is violated in a
> novel way, this can lead to laughter and our perception that something
> humorous just happened.

As a standup comic myself, I know this well. Example- I'm on stage, wearing
a t-shirt with "ALASKA", a bear, a whale, a mountain range...

"Ya like my t-shirt? Alaska... I've never been there, I got this from my
buddy Dave the Graverobber."

[This gets them going a bit]

"Actually, his wife's ex-husband died and I got this shirt, a pair of
shoes, ten boxes of Marlboros and an oxygen tank!"

[Ah, the sweet sound of laughter]

Surprise is why you don't laugh as hard (or sometimes even at all) the
second time you hear a gag.

Doug Jones
Rocket Plumber, XCOR Aerospace

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