The Power of Humor

Power is a very strong feeling. People have and always will strive for power. The sense of security power gives comforts people. They are not being attacked for their actions but in fact, they are backed by

supporters (audience) or attain high morale by making their opposition (women or butt of joke) feel helpless and second-rate.

The power struggle between men and women has always existed, and always will. Back when the women’s rights movement was happening, they gained a lot of power, but not enough. To this day women are still patronized and looked down upon as the poor, little, weak, girl image. Even salaries are still not equal to men. Men think of women as raising the kids during the day and being a good house wife, while the dominant man brings home the money to support the family. The word of the man of the house is the rule. Nancy Walker shows some examples how this idea of women is converted into comedy and how in different situations men would react or respond differently. She believes men’s background attributes to the different reactions. A good representation of this is if you see a Chinese or Asian women laugh, they always cover their mouths. This action shows shyness which most women, I believe carry. This also could possibly explain why women are embarrassed to joke and kid in the presence of a man or men. They feel they should not be doing this.

When telling a joke, further along the line, someone will be offended. This statement, made by Susan Purdie, compares and contrasts the joke-teller and audience relationship and the torment of the butt of a joke. It is understood joking is a good way to make conversation or to meet people in general. But when joking, discretion is advised. People might get offended. Say for example, when going out with a group of friends who are all white except for one African American. A seemingly harmless joke about African Americans would not be appropriate because that person might get upset. The butt, in most jokes is considered a “stupid person”, and the teller/audience might distinguish themselves as clever, and or superior. Though this is not very nice, it is common. It is a fact that when a dominant group feels threatened of their power, they will do what they can to prevent the loss power, making them feel secure. Comedy is a language in it self. Comedy can imply an opinion of one person just by the jokes told.

Racism can be easily linked in today’s comedy. Comedians poke fun at all sorts of ethnicities based on stereo-types known to public. When a good comedian sets up his act, he wants the audience to back him in his jokes. Once he has reached a certain level of support, he must feel very confident to throw more jokes bordering offensive, because he knows he is untouchable (powerful) with his crowd. Without the crowd, some jokes told would not be allowed to slide so easy. Patriotism is very powerful and is commonly used in jokes to attack all middle-eastern people. Talking about September 11th touches the audience’s memory to accept jokes about middle-eastern people. The power used in these situations is really quite frightening.