As Blake said the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, and humour without any doubt means indignation towards the follies of the world, sarcastic indignation against human vanity, his authority and his stupidity. We can also consider Humor as a form of revenge through which we can get even of the abuses supported without breaking the law. Humor, which is one of the highest activity of the human brain, as Freud sais, is thus a means that helps us to live better and to endure our distressing reality. As a matter of fact, it is a good therapy and a way of teaching us something through a lively approach.
In ancient medical theory there were four principal “humours” in the human body (phlegm, blood, choler and black bile) and the bad balance of these elements caused illness, while an exact balance made a compound called “good humour”! In modern times, however the concept of humor has enlarged enormously and nowadays we talk about humor in literature as well as in everyday life to indicate not only a genre of writing but also a particular mood or character to face our existence and overcome the different anxieties of its burdens!
Humor is the feeling of the contrary, while the comic is the observation of it, said Pirandello in his essay on Humor, but nowadays we can consider humor as an hypernymic word that incorporates other styles and ways of oral and written expression such as comedy, satire or parody, and that makes use of all the linguistic and rhetorical devices of our tradition, such as irony, sarcasm, metaphors, puns and other tropes or schemes. In any case we associate humor with what makes us laugh or that evokes mirth, pleasure or strong as well as soft criticism towards the vices of the human kind.
Someone point out that humor is a nihilistic approach to life and that it tend to destroy and reject all established codes of values and morality, but this way to destroy is nothing but a way to create a new and healthier human behaviour, as Bacone or Eliot tought us! Of course we have to understand the different ways of fantastical writing and thus we have also to come to terms with jokes production and nonsensical literature, but in the long run all this will help us to better appreciate the ineffectual, ridiculous, even comical, meaning of our existence and so at last we will learn to understand better also its final essence!
A joke from Jewish circles (published in 1981) celebrating Jewish intelligence, Gentile stupidity, and Jewish fraud, runs like this:
“On a train in czarist Russia, a Jew is eating a whitefish, wrapped in paper. A Gentile, sitting across the aisle, begins to taunt him with various anti-Semitic epithets. Finally, he asks the Jew, ‘What makes you Jews so smart?’
‘All right,’ replies the Jew, ‘I guess I’ll have to tell you. It’s because we eat the head of the whitefish.’
‘Well, if that’s the secret,’ says the Gentile, ‘then I can be as smart as you are.’
‘That’s right,’ says the Jew, ‘And in fact, I happen to have an extra whitefish head with me. You can have it for five kopecks.’
The Gentile pays for the fish head and begins to eat. An hour later the train stops at a station for a few minutes. The Gentile leaves the train and comes back.
‘Listen, Jew,’ he says, ‘You sold me that whitefish head for five kopecks. But I just saw a whole whitefish at the market for three kopecks.’
‘See,’ replies the Jew, ‘You’re getting smarter already.'”