Truth in Humor

Two plus two equals seven.

That was a joke.

Granted, not exactly a joke of the knee-slapping variety likely to send an audience into stitches, but a joke in the sense that I don’t really believe two plus to equals seven, neither consciously, nor subliminally, nor any other way.

Having heard my joke, chances are you will accuse me of being an unfunny comedian rather than a closet opponent of conventional arithmetic attempting to broadcast my warped views under the guise of humor, just so I could hide behind that claim “Oh, I was just kidding” in case an offended mathematician seems about to cosh me over the block with her abacus.

So when I proclaim that two plus two equals seven and that anyone who believes that two plus two equals four has been brainwashed by capitalist propaganda, people may roll their eyes or demonstratively mime tickling themselves under the armpit in order to signal that my pitiful attempt at humor all by itself won’t suffice to set them laughing, but no one will suspect that this may be the kind of math I actually use when I count the quarters in my pocket to check whether I have enough change for the dryer at the laundromat. (Laundromat. Not “laundry mat.” Frankly, I’m never quite sure if someone is kidding when they tweet that they’re “masterbating at the laundry mat,” and I’m not referring to the potential factuality of the assertion.)

Women belong in the kitchen.

That was another joke. I just felt like saying something dumb again.

But now I run the risk of being charged with using humor as a stealth delivery system to air my misogyny. All of a sudden, someone may confront with the old adage that there’s “truth in humor”; in other words, that if somewhere deep down I didn’t really believe that women ought to spend their lives stirring pots, then I wouldn’t even have thought of such a line, i.e., that everything we are able to conceive of must be rooted in our belief system, or else we wouldn’t be able to conceive of it in the first place.

As per this thesis, of course, I never should have been able to come up with the silly assertion that “two plus two equals seven.”

There are many types of humor. One is to simply say something stupid, which is only fun to do when one does absolutely not believe it to be true on any level. How a listener might be able to tell the difference without mind-reading skills is another story, and when one throws around overtly racist or sexist statements, even though these may originate from a place of ridiculing racists and sexists as opposed to siding with their views, misunderstandings may ensue, and charges of insensitivity may be in order.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any “truth” in those statements from the jester’s perspective. He may be making them precisely because, as far as he is concerned, there is no truth in them.

The statement There’s truth in humor is wrong.

There may be truth in humor.

Big difference.

  • jenny

    As long as there’s humor in humor, I’m satisfied.

    • Cyberquill

      You’ve always struck me as an easy-to-satisfy kinda gal.