Constituents of laughter

October 16, 2008
(Lexical meaning of laughter-- the action, sound or manner of laughing.)

Laughing is an instinctive action. Right? Wrong.

Although laughter is considered to be arbitrary and impulsive, it is actually Scientific.

Study of humor reveals that certain rules need to be followed and points be kept in mind to create humor.

Hahaha! You may ask, “So you mean to say even laughter can be studied?”
I say yes. If these principles are applied, humor can definitely be produced. (Unless the audience is stubborn not to laugh, of course!).

Let’s try to make the simple example of “a man trying to cross the road” hilarious by applying the following principles:-

Rules to create humor:-

Clash of context

Inappropriate things which are completely unexpected and maybe even absurd- are placed at the scene.
Eg. In our example of man trying to cross the road- say, a tank obstructs the road or a low flying jet approaches him closely or an F1 racing car whizzes past at great speed.


A very important tool to create laughter. Exaggerate to the highest level, and ask yourself- What is the worse that can go wrong? And then, create that wrong.
Eg. In our example, make the road very wide (10 or 20 lines) and put thousands of cars.

Inappropriate response

It helps in making the situation confusing and convoluted, which in turn helps produce more laughter.
Eg. Assume that in our example, the person has finally managed to cross the road but the policeman on the opposite side wont let him! The cop tells him to go back, otherwise he would challan him for crossing the road. What nonsense?! But trust me, it makes you laugh.

4. Taboo

Taboos are things that are socially unacceptable. But taboo is a potential tool to induce humor. Readers often like things that are socially wrong. For instance, in many places where sex is considered a taboo, people enjoy adult jokes. Similarly, taboo can be used to create laughs.
Eg. The road which the person tries to cross is covered with urine. Though very awkward, it is a very powerful image which is absurd yet liked at the same time.


The reader should be able to either sympathize or empathize with the main character.
Sympathy means- I like him; Empathy means- I am like him.
Create worst-possible circumstances for the lead character. And he, instead of acting wisely would commit even more mistakes to make the situation worse. This is where the reader actually starts liking that guy, or starts feeling he might have been in his situation.

To conclude, ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. So come on, be a Doctor of laughter!

Apply these simple, logical rules and have the last laugh (What a pun!

Remember- What is the worse that can go wrong?

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