Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why is humour a taboo?

Last week, there was a row in my country due to a remark in a talk show. An old guy thought he was funny and made a rude joke. Other people felt offended. I ignore all these talk shows as any publicity is good publicity for them. The Dutch Justice Department wants to investigate if something happened 50 years ago.

This Dutch row reminds me that several actors and/or comedians have already complained that it’s getting difficult to be funny because their words easily hurt or offend other people’s feelings. Let’s assume for the sake of this article that people are genuinely hurt or offended. I’m not convinced though.

Once we laughed about taboos in society. Apparently, laughing about former taboos is now considered offensive. It appears that the removal of taboos has caused that humour (about former taboos) has become a taboo. Why?

Early 2017, I published my blog You can only hurt someone with the truth. This blog would imply that you can laugh about hidden truths, and that you cannot laugh about truths that are out in the open (eg, sexuality). That would indeed be consistent with the role of a jester, a historical comedian.

Once everything is out in the open, there are few taboos left in society. Actually, my original title for this blog was different: are there any taboos left in society (eg, Quora). Then, I realized humour is the new taboo.

It’s not just humour that is a taboo today. The truth itself is becoming a taboo. In this day and age, there appears to be a new kind of “truth” (see #1 below), above and beyond the 3 kinds of truths (ie, #2-4) as defined by Karl Popper:

  1. ideological or woke “truths”;
  2. subjective truths (ie, opinions);
  3. objective truths (ie, facts);
  4. absolute truths (eg, mathematics).

Humour (in general) seems to be unacceptable for the people in the first category above. These people are dead serious about anything. The arrow of time may solve this. I’m not convinced though.

Some quotes and a tweet by actor, comedian, director and writer Ricky Gervais on humour:

  • “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.”
  • “If you can’t joke about the most horrendous things in the world, what’s the point of jokes? What’s the point in having humor? Humor is to get us over terrible things.”
  • “You can laugh at anything. It depends on the joke.”

The Joker (1973) by the Steve Miller Band
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-album, Wiki-song

‘Cause I’m a picker, I’m a grinner
I’m a lover, and I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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