Humour, also known as sense of humour, is defined in the dictionary as “the ability to appreciate or express that which is humorous”. There are several theories that make humour relevant to wellbeing, like the relief theory, which says that laughter is a mechanism by which psychological tension is reduced. This is because it releases a chemical called serotonin, a “feel good” chemical, into the brain. The best way to see humour as a form of entertainment; if you think about it, it is trying to cheer you up or trying to make a funny point about a subject.
Over time different styles of humour have been popular and have changed, from Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton’s slapstick silent comedy to today’s style of stand-up comedy. Slapstick comedy continued during the 60’s and 80’s, with comedians like Benny Hill, Frank Spencer and Kenny Evert, which is tongue and cheek, and lots of people still find funny now a days, as it is very visual. However, comedy since the mid nineties seems to have changed and I think some comedy sketches have become too over done. A constant use of one specific type of humour could be seen as rather tiresome; bringing in more new material it could be more fun.
Humour also has a unique tendency to cross cultural backgrounds, even if you are from an ethnic minority. Sometime it is designed to make fun of how people in their community behave. A prime example is Goodness Gracious Me, which is about life as a South Asian person in the UK. As a South Asian myself, seeing this programme reminds me what people from this community are really like. You might also be able find some similarities from your own background.
Politicians and celebrities are often mimicked, made fun of and vilified by comedians world-wide, most commonly leaders of countries (i.e. Prime Ministers or Presidents) and other leading Politicians. Most of the humour is based on what they are doing or what they shouldn’t be doing. They can be rather over exaggerated, no matter what country they come from.
Comedians, or anyone who tries to be funny, rely on the reactions of people on the receiving end. So if a person attempts a funny joke or something silly, and it does not go well, that person may not try that joke again or at least re-work the joke. Most comedians tend to do situation-based comedy or stand up comedy. One way of trying to be funny is by using language to play with different meanings, for example “I am taking a break” can be seen as a person trying to break something. Another interesting way is to be funny is by finding the meaning of the word in another language, for example in English ‘Hey dude’ mean you are saying hello to someone you think is cool, but in Bengali (a language from the subcontinent) ‘Hey dude’ means ‘Hello milk’.
When it comes to mental health, humour plays a very important part. When you have “mental health problems” you may find yourself in a state where you have trouble controlling your moods. Some people describe it as being in a big hole without any light at the end. In this state, gentle humour can be useful in making each step less daunting. It can slowly helping them get various ideas on how to get themselves out of any situation and to see things from a different perspective.