Is sense of humor related to intelligence?
Humor is one of the great mysteries of the human order. If you ask a hundred experts on why we laugh, there would likely be a hundred different answers. In the same vein, intelligence is also a mystery as it can project a whole host of definitions. So the question comes – is sense of humor related to intelligence? The answer to the question is ‘Yes.’ If you look at the newborn babies, they express laughter in the presence of positive external stimuli, but can be related to humor? Probably not in quite the same sense as we are likely to think of it. I think a true sense of humor comes with development of intellectual capacity. So in that context, humor is obviously a sign of intelligence.
I have observed that people who have good sense of humor are intelligent in their mental makeup. If you see the live comedy shows on television, most of the comedians are very good with their dialogue timings, they are attentive and well prepared. They know when and how to fill the gaps and the exact moments where to make people laugh. They are clever and good observers. They draw very intelligent inferences of incidents happening around the world, they can detect nuances in delivering serious matters in an amusing way. Basically comedians are observant and are gifted people; they fill the gaps. They are good actors. I suppose intelligence, helps in understanding other people. It also helps in upgrading abilities both mental and physical. Humorists are usually quite introspective; with a passionate curiosity for “why people do what they do” and this curiosity about people is strongly correlated with intelligence.
The great, talented and endowed people such as P.K.Atre, P.L.Deshpande in Marathi were so intelligent in their speeches that people would throng and the venues of their speeches would be jam-packed. Their speeches were well worded, humorous and very well timed. They had the abilities to crack vulgar jokes without vulgar words or vulgar gestures. In Hindi cinema Mehmood, Jhony Walker, Mukri, Agha, Om Prakash and of course Kishore Kumar were the great lot of intelligent actors who could combine subtleness with a splash of vulgarity in their intelligent dialogue delivery and superb timing. But, sadly today’s standup comedians don’t know where to draw a line; the more vulgar they speak, the less funny they sound.
It’s worth a recall that in 1960s comedians like Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Lenny Bruce literally started a sexual revolution; their dialogues thrived on ‘F’ words. They liberated sexuality which was until then a forbidden topic. They could think outside the box. It’s worth recognizing the fact that since the audience usually thinks inside the box, there is surprise that you didn’t really understand where the joke was going – this surprise is what makes humor work. And this is why timing is so crucial to humor. It’s too fast, too subtle, and no one in the audience understands.
Friends if you can laugh and if you enjoy comedy thank your stars, because there are so many people, those who appear to have no sense of humor at all; there is an evidence that people who have suffered brain damage, particularly to the right hemisphere of the brain, are less able to understand jokes. Other people who have all their mental faculties intact still seem to have a problem with humor. They make what they think are jokes, while remaining unmindful to the fact that no-one is laughing. Trust me; being able to hang on to a sense of humor is an incredibly positive trait. Humor has fantastic coping mechanism and has a escalation cycle, because the more you are able to see the funny side and laugh off the difficulties in life the more stronger you become emotionally and mentally.
Humor allows us to see things from a different perspective; it is something that all the best cartoonists and comedians in the world do. If you look the happiest and most successful people around you, one thing worth knowing about them is that they don’t just stop at one way of looking at a situation; they explore other ways. That’s also the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is very successful in treating all kinds of depression.
We always find humor only within our fellow human beings. We see laughter in some animal species, but that appears to be a different expression from humor. So if we were to presume this anthropocentric viewpoint, then we see at least a correlation between the two.
Humor helps us to accept our own flaws; self-acceptance doesn’t have to be hard work. We can develop some of our most enjoyable flaws. Humor helps us to find out when not to have the last word. Humor also helps us to get rid of being afraid to ask silly questions. Please don’t forget that the most perfect moments usually happen at the most imperfect time. Having a sense of humor works, it tells us that we are imperfect beings and I feel that intelligence is needed to recognize this imperfection in ourselves.
Life is so short and we want to do so much – our list of doing things is big. As such, we should learn how to make it through life with a minimum of negative emotions that tend to drag us down. By simmering in our emotions, particularly the more powerful and self-destructive ones, we are not only shortening our lifespan, we are also making what time we do have here on earth less than fulfilling. So friends, make efforts of laughing as much as possible. Watch more comedy movies and comedy dramas. Read a lot of funny novels. Share something silly about yourself with friends, laugh at yourself, and help your friends to get a laugh out of them.