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Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments.

This is consistent with humour. Humour has a unique and powerful property - it short circuits man's value judgements of others. Usually a man has to work at abilities and practice the virtues of patience, perseverance, getting back up when fallen, rational choices between short term and long term joy etc., for another to admire his achievements. But with humour, all a man need do, is make another laugh, and he is instantly 'liked' by that other. By 'liked', I mean, he is granted an entry into realms normally reserved for the latter described. Realms such as respect, trust, companionship and sexual attraction. Even jobs may be offered to this man when otherwise they would not.

But humour itself requires creativity, intelligence and a knowledge of current events and trends, so it is not as easy as it sounds. I want to position this discussion as separate to "Sense Of Humour". This is the passive, receptive version. I am discussing the active version, the art of making others laugh. One must be actively funny to achieve this.

So I would like to open this topic for discussion and I am interested to hear other rational viewpoints.

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Great thread. I agree with your reasoning, and I also think it's a point that should be made more often.

But I think the word you are looking for (for "the active version of humor, the art of making people laugh") is comedy. It already exists as a separate, thriving art form. It's probably more popular than most art. I guess there are snobs who don't recognize it as art, but that doesn't really affect me, or it for that matter.

P.S. I guess it affects us when they try to censor it before other forms of arts, which these days happens a lot.

Edited by Tanaka
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Beautiful. Yes, Comedy, sums it up. Why didn't I think of that? Good job. However, do realize that I also refer to the everyday acts of comedy, in the office, at school, in a bar etc. and not necessarily the more official forms of it. So...

1/ Is it an artform?

2/ How does it work?

3/ Why does work?

4/ Is it necessary to man? (redundant to #1 but here for clarity)

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Firstly, I don't know how useful it is to analyze humor while ignoring the passive role of the listener. It is first and foremost important to understand the nature of humor and laughter. So I suggest that before you begin to answer this question, you should attempt to identify what laughter is and its role in the human psyche, as well as its evolutionary roots.

Humor is unique from other art forms in that it's not as analytical. For example, when you read literature or look at a painting, there's a very active analytical process which goes on in your mind before you judge it. You must consciously concretize the values being expressed through the artistic medium. While this process falls on the lap of the audience, the artist must be aware of this process during the process of creating the art. Just like a comedian must understand what makes something funny before he can make effective jokes.

But with humor it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction. Either something’s funny or it’s not. The second you have to stop to determine whether a joke or story is funny, it ceases to be funny. So unlike other forms of art, the mechanism for judging humor is whether it makes one laugh. Understanding laughter is the key. The values expressed in the joke are also integral to the joke’s success, but consider this: the exact same phrasing of a particular joke can be hilarious or totally unfunny depending on the style in which the joke is delivered. Therefore it’s not the just the content of the joke that determines whether it’s good because the slightest inflection in tone on the part of the joke-teller can determine whether the listener laughs or cringes. Delivery is everything.

I have little doubt that humor is an art form. But the fact that we use laughter (or at least the particular enjoyment that laughter brings us) as a standard of judgment makes it fundamentally different from other forms of art.

Edited by Reason_Being
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Humor is unique from other art forms in that it's not as analytical.

I disagree. How do you explain puns and wordplay, then? Have you never found a pun to be funny only after analyzing the content of the joke? That happens to me relatively regularly.

To use an example, tell me your thought process with this:

Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot everywhere, to the point that his feet

became quite thick and hard. He also was quite a spiritual person.

Even when he was not on a hunger strike, he did not eat much and

became quite thin and frail. Due to this diet, he wound up with very

bad breath. Therefore, he came to be known as a . . .

Super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

My point is really that humor is heavily reliant on analysis, the most fulfilling kind of humor to me being the kind that is the most complex. I see humor as merely a *style* rather than an art form in itself.

Edited by Eiuol
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  • 2 months later...

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