It’s a normal scene; you’re sitting around the television with your family, watching the first thing you could all, sort of, agree on, and the main character makes a joke, a very obvious joke. It hits your funny bone just right and you burst out into a fit of laughter. You look at your parents to gauge their reactions and find them sitting blank-faced, completely unaffected by the piece of comedic gold you have just experienced. “How can you not laugh at that?” you say, almost defensively of yourself.
They shrug and reply, “It just wasn’t funny.” Now you’re put in a situation of doubting your taste in humour, or, more realistically, questioning whether or not you were adopted at birth and your real parents are actually comedians somewhere. You’re too funny for the former to be the case, and now you are viciously searching the internet for comedian couples.
Or you’re on the other couch in this scenario. You’re busting your gut and look to your child to share in this humourous moment and find them texting on their cellphone and rolling their eyes at you. You begin to wonder which of your in-laws’ poor taste in humour your child inherited.
But why is that? What is it that causes some people to split their sides laughing while others are silent or even insulted? It’s something that we typically see over generations, from you to your parents and from your parents to theirs. What’s changed over the years that makes today's jokes seem lacklustre? Or even yet, what has stayed the same in humour that you and your parents or grandparents can share a chuckle over?
For me, and probably many others, it’s a bit of a mix between the two situations. Most of the time though, I find I’m the only one laughing. And for all I know, when they are laughing, they’re laughing at me instead of with me.
So the question is, what's so funny? I'm going to be asking my parents and grandparents, to see how different - or similar - our taste in humour is, and whether they've noticed a change in comedy since they were kids. Of course, humour is a personal thing and not everyone fits into certain categories based on age alone. But I do think there is something that can be said about the evolution of the 'knock, knock' jokes, to the borderline - or not-so-borderline - offensive jokes we've come to accept today.
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Photo Credit: Blake Campbell