Joke In a Bush Is Better Than Two In the Hand

Yesterday’s post got some comments that got me thinking about joking and how jokes affect people.

Years ago I used “offensive” jokes much more often than I do today. Offensive, as in the meaning that “they could offend”. I didn’t mean to offend anyone with those jokes, but by looking back I can see that clearly they could be taken offensively. I guess it was pretty okay since the same people joked back at me the same way and were my best friends anyway. (Anyone seen Gran Torino? Where Clint was speaking in that movie shouting very harshly to others. That wasn’t how we joked, ours speech were much milder).

I’m the kind of person who makes jokes about myself, and also jokes among friends and people I know. I’m no comedian (those aren’t funny anyway), but I do like “intelligent” humor where the words are more important than how loud they are said (think of British tv comedy over American tv comedy – very generally speaking, there’s gems in American tv as well). This wasn’t a joke so, it can’t be taken offensive. Right?

Anyway.

There isn’t really a safe spot when it comes to joking. Joking only about yourself is a good start, but even then there’s dangers if you move to the areas like “my religion” or “my favourite politician” or “my handicap” or whatever. You might also use harsh language or use jokes related to sex – it all can be too much to some people.

Let’s take a few examples:

  • Is it okay to make jokes about handicapped people? Some people would say “no, it’s not okay” while some people – including those with a handicap – might say “yes, sure – it’s okay”.
  • What about South Park – is it too much? Some people dislike it a lot, some people think it’s just fine.
  • Monthy Python? They joked about very many things (mainly British…)
  • Or take Ali G / Borat / Brüno – do you think this guy has bad humor?
  • Joking about British tv comedy over American tv comedy? Some people will not tolerate if somebody jokes about comedy shown in American tv (especially when shown in comparison to British tv – even when this is merely an opinion of one person who prefers one after another).

My guideline (where I aim to), is to minimize insulting people/peoples/genres/age/sex/stuff with my speech (it’s been greatly reduced compared to what it was years ago, but still need to work with this area), and to keep joking about myself and voices in my head.

Joking is a very serious issue. The jokes and humor is important. Joking affects people around you. It’s way to handle difficult things. It’s way to build team spirit and connect people. It’s way to sell games.

It’s (hopefully) fun too.

What you think about jokes & humor?

6 thoughts on “Joke In a Bush Is Better Than Two In the Hand

  1. Lumooja

    Getting offended is an interesting issue. I think most people can get offended by things which are not logical.

    For example, if some completely stranger tries to offend you, it’s for me theoretically impossible that he can actually offend you, since he doesn’t know anything about you. So all he claims, is just a random guess or opinion.
    He might say: You look stupid. If I really look stupid, then it’s not a offense, but a fact. I don’t get offended by that. If I don’t look stupid, then he is wrong, or he has a very bad visual recognition skill.

    Not getting offended by thinking logical is in at least for me caused by analytic thinking. Usually I analyze every word which is said, I guess that comes from C/C++ programming where you can’t make mistakes, and every word has to be correct :)

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  2. Wessel

    I consider people who are easily offended to be whiners. Learn to take a joke, and maybe then you will realize you’re not the center of the universe. This allows for people to be much more critical both to their own work and that of others, resulting in a much higher quality of the end product. And really, faking everyone likes everyone really doesn’t do people good, it only means people will be talking gossip about each other all over the place.

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  3. hermitC

    In my opinion it’s the same trade-off as in vertical vs. horizontal marketing. Either you please everyone but only on a shallow base or be rude and stay only with the like-minded.
    I think a good solution is to keep the broadcast more conservative and keep the ‘dangerous’ jokes specialized to each person via direct contact.
    Finally it’s pure trial and error but also very interesting.

    Reply
  4. Tobias Scheuer

    Absolutely right. It starts with different taste about many things, then you get all the language related possibilities for misunderstandings if you try to joke with people from foreign countries. It’s difficult enough to make a good joke in your mother tongue, and almost impossible to get it right in a foreign language.
    So be careful about what you joke about if you’re in company with people you don’t know very well.

    Reply

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