Joy of humor


If you read any dating profile on online dating site, you will see many women prefer humor as a main attribute in a mate. If you ask any woman in grocery store or anywhere, many will respond by saying humor is their top 5 choice. Why?

Robert Provine played baritone sax with the Delbert McClinton band.  He’s also a neuroscientist at the University of MarylandBaltimore County and wrote the book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. From one to the other isn’t  the leap you might  expect.  “Good jazz and laughter are both products of listening to and responding to social signals,” says Provine.

Robert Provine

For  example,  take the opening of  my  recorded call with  Provine—why do I laugh after  saying,   “Do  you mind if I click record?  Because I’m thinking about  podcasting quotes later … ha,   ha,   ha!”  It’s  because  I’m  trying to signal  that  I’m no threat—to assure him that I won’t   stitch the quotes together into a Mel Gibson diatribe that I can then submit  to celebrity gossip sites or otherwise use these recorded words against  him.


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Similarly,  throughout the call , I chuckle to indicate understanding as in,  “ha, ha, that’s  right!”  And I laugh to indicate uncertainty,  as in “I Wonder if anyone’s ever thought about that … ha,  ha,  ha?”  Provine’s spent thousands of hours cataloging similar uses of laughter, from Campus gathering places to high school cafeterias to mall food courts. His findings include the facts that   speakers are about  46 percent more likely to laugh  than listeners, laughter is thirty times more likely in social  situations than when  alone,  laughter frequently takes  the place of periods or  commas,  and only 10–15 percent of pre-laugh comments are even remotely funny.



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Actually,” Provine says,  “laughter is more about relationships than jokes.”  Human laughter evolved from the grunts and snorts of  playing apes, who use these vocalizations to signal social  inclusion. Sure, you may overlay the trigger of a punch line or a wry aside or a pun  or  a surprising  observation,  but  if  you want to bring  the  funny,  you have to first become part of the pack . That’s why so many jokes start with “There I was, standing in line at the grocery store, ” or  “Don’t  you just hate airplane seats?, ”  or other descriptions meant to create the bond of shared experience between joker and  jokee.



“We don’t laugh at Jay Leno because he’s funny,” says Provine.  “We laugh because we empathize with Jay Leno.”

So if you want to make people laugh,  instead of practicing your punch lines, practice your empathy and listening skills.

All of you must develop sense of humor to add to your social skills. It will help you in your job interviews and when you do land your dream job, you will be able to interact with all employees regardless of age or experience.  It is very critical that you are able to work with all people using your sense of humor. Plus, ladies love a man who has developed that sense of humor to remove that weird awkwardness. Stay tuned, I will provide some pointers based on my experiences in Laff Factory and Helium Comedy club in Philly.-SjC


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