Humor

Since humor relies heavily on cultural association and a host of other variables including geographical location, maturity, education level and context, it often does not translate into other languages and cultures with the same perspective. People from different cultures often consider different things funny.

More open than humor in many other countries, American humor tends to rely on observation and slapstick. Since the U.S. never had a monarchy or system of nobility, their humor regarding class systems focuses more on stereotypes based on race, gender or social standing. In order to understand this type of comedy, you have to observe and relate to the object of the humor.

In the U.S. literature, cartoons, comics, television, radio and comedy shows all express humor in different ways. Literature can comment on humorous situations in a narrative or first hand manner; cartoons and comics rely on artistic humor paired with brief amusing comments that elaborate on the visual comedy; first radio and now television market situation comedies (sit-coms) to help us laugh at ourselves in everyday situations; comedians build routines around specific topics that poke fun at or exaggerate stereotypes and daily life.

Comedy can often address delicate subjects and make people think due to the manner in which the material is presented. However, poking fun at specific objects and stereotypes can also create tension and build walls of misunderstanding.

Some famous American comedians include Steve Allen, George Bums, Art Carney, Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis, Steve Martin, Walter Matthau, Dennis Miller, Eddie Murphy, Lily Tomlin and Robin Williams.


What is a joke?
A joke is a short story or series of words told to elicit laughter or amusement from the listener or reader. Jokes usually rely on fairly precise details, timing and a punch line, or the final statement that makes the joke funny or evokes a response in the audience. Among the many types of jokes told in the U.S. we find political jokes, ethnic jokes, dirty or sexist jokes, riddles and knock-knock jokes.

Often jokes can break tension or an uncomfortable silence by focusing on the humor in an awkward situation and help people release stress through laughter. Speakers and preachers often begin their talks by telling a joke that segues into the topic they will address. Theoretically, this gets the attention of the audience and relaxes them.


Why is that funny?
Since humor relies heavily on cultural association and a host of other variables including geographical location, maturity, education level and context, it often does not translate into other languages and cultures with the same perspective. People from different cultures often consider different things funny.

More open than humor in many other countries, American humor tends to rely on observation and slapstick. Since the U.S. never had a monarchy or system of nobility, their humor regarding class systems focuses more on stereotypes based on race, gender or social standing. In order to understand this type of comedy, you have to observe and relate to the object of the humor.