Humor in Culture Essay

Humor is a universal phenomenon that transcends aspects such as language and stereotypes, which often define communities and distinguish them from one another. While using jokes across cultures can serve as a unique way of communicating with diverse groups of people, it is crucial to consider that misunderstandings can occur due to cultural differences. By combining various formal and stylistic features, individuals can spark laughter among the target audience through humorous utterances. In most cases, actors rely on universal themes that are least likely restrained by cultural limitations. For instance, jokes revolving around trickster stories and events, political satire, and mothers-in-law are common. However, considering that humor and comedy require performers to possess highly sensitive linguistic and cultural competence, it is essential to explore the concept in the context of culture.

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The reason that makes humor and comedy be favorite aspects in society is the ability to break down barriers by having a possibility to communicate across cultural boundaries. In cross-cultural situations of contact, cracking a joke is one of the most appropriate ways of breaking the ice and initiating interactions. Jokes and laughter are some of the tools that get people to quickly lower their defenses and enable them to trust the other person. By counting on the idea that laughter is universal, an individual can bridge the cultural gap that limits the way representatives of distinct social and cultural backgrounds interact in a given setting. However, it is essential to consider that an inappropriate joke may reduce the level of trust or seriousness between the speaker and the listener.

In the present day society, humor and comedy comprise more than just the quips made by performers or shared among peers. In its current state, the concept goes beyond the original pieces that create joy. The nature and role of comedy enable it to easily ingrate with the audience’s cognitive and emotional reactions towards the humorous creations. The riots and marches that occur at the University of California, Berkeley, highlight how the response of an audience indicates cultural sensitivity or lack of it by various speakers. For example, an appearance by Ben Shapiro, famed for calling a section of the US population spoiled brats, ended up in a costly night for the institution (Steinmetz 51). By denouncing the victim mentality, he provoked a reaction from the student population. Thus, it is evident that the use of satirical utterances can stir problematic responses from listeners.

It is noteworthy that humor and comedy, just like other forms of communication, require a specific context. In the absence of a framework, it becomes easy for some recipients to perceive or interpret puns shared by a speaker wrongly. Primarily, all the details of human life, at any given time in history, affects the way people form, receive, or respond to humor. For instance, members of a community that has endured social injustices for a prolonged period are likely to create funny tales that reflect their struggle. However, an audience that does not share a similar experience may fail to see the appeal in some jests. For example, not all people will understand jokes about being pulled over by law enforcement officers. Such a situation is due to limited understanding of the context of creation and delivery of the otherwise comical narrations. Therefore, it is accurate to term comedy as subjective to culture.

The subjectivity of culture is a significant factor that determines the nature of comedy that exists in a community, its level of tolerance, as well as criticism that it faces. There exists a dynamic power relationship between an audience, a speaker, and the diverse elements that motivate humorous content creators. Various communities form, share, perceive, and experience humor through different cultural perspectives. Factors such as history, politics, and the media play a role in shaping society’s perception of comedy. Others include economic aspects, issues of gender, race, sexuality, and social classes, and religious perspectives (Miller 1). Therefore, the relevance of witticisms varies from one social setting to another.

Technology is one of the things that have supplanted or can take over older identities and functions and ways of doing things. The rapid development of information and communication technology has impacted the way societies and audiences create, share, perceive, and react to comedy and humor. Given the ability of the innovation to facilitate an actor’s reach to listeners across different cultures and distant locations, it is vital to study the influence that it has on the people’s way of life. For instance, the internet-savvy members of the contemporary society can gain access to comical shows and acts that may or may not reflect the performers’ multicultural competency. Therefore, due to the attachment and value that they place in their cultures, the reaction to such programs or jokes can result in disruptive social movements.

Over the years, various forces have combined to create an online platform for sharing comedy as a way of communicating with a specific target audience. It is a particular aspect of humor that enables a large section of the young population to access materials that they could not come across in their childhood. The adoption of social technology, facilitated by factors such as constant innovation in computer technologies, has impacted the creation, distribution, and consumption of comical content. The model operates without the previous limitations that existed in communities such as language and access. As a result, a comedy about various aspects of human life shared through Internet-enabled devices has become a popular and accepted form of humor due to continuous innovation in social technology.

Blackish is a comedy television series that uses humor to address various issues about culture in the US. By presenting the show from the perspective of a wealthy African-American family cast, the creator of the series manages to cover specific essential themes using comedy. One of the critical aspects communicated in the program is the issue of slavery and misconceptions that surround it (Butler). The fourth season of the series features an episode titled as “Juneteenth.” Its title represents the events of 19th June 1865, a historic day when the last slaves got freedom from their masters (Butler). Through a comical performance of talk and song, the video contributes to the audience’s understanding of a critical phase in the culture and history of the African-American community.

Overall, humor is a language that is understood by many. Termed as a universal phenomenon, it has various restrictions that exist to guide usage and promote positive interactions in the communities. It is a laugh language that requires users to develop multicultural competencies to avoid offending others who may not relate with certain witty remarks. Understanding cultural differences that distinguish various audiences can enable performers to entertain without provoking others. Acquiring the ability to discern appropriate and inappropriate jokes can facilitate the communication process, especially with people of diverse cultural backgrounds. Besides, as comedy evolves due to the influence of factors such as technology, it is essential for actors to nurture multicultural competencies that will enable them to create and share relevant and pleasing content.

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Works Cited
Butler, Bethonie. “‘Blackish’ Gives a Powerful History Lesson — With Nods to ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Schoolhouse Rock’.” The Washington Post, 10 April 2017, Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.
Miller, Toby. “What It Is and What It Isn’t: Introducing… Cultural Studies.” A Companion to Cultural Studies, edited by Toby Miller, Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, pp. 1-19. Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.
Steinmetz, Katy. “The Campus Culture Wars.” Time, 14 Oct. 2017, Accessed 25 Apr. 2019.