It happened to me several times, that I share a funny joke(funny according to me) with my friends and they get offended. This makes me feel guilty. Since, then I always used to wonder if there is any framework to decide if a joke is funny for everyone. When things like space and time are relative, how can you decide if something is funny or not absolutely?

But after reflecting on this, I came up with a small framework to decide if something is to be considered as a joke or taken seriously. When someone doesn’t laugh on the joke I share, I don’t feel guilty if my framework decide its funny! I feel bad for them, that they take things too seriously in life. So here are the only two rules that I follow:

  1. Jokes that are invariant of the person involved: Though, space and time are relative, the Lorentz Invariant is same for all observers. Similarly, in some funny incidents, the humor is invariant of the person involved. For example, when a person walking suddenly slips and falls down and you find it funny, it is because the incident is funny. You would have still laughed if there was another person who had faced the same tragedy! So, there is nothing wrong in laughing. Funny incidents happen and we all should share the joy. In fact, if I were the person who slipped I would still laugh on myself. But again, it depends on how serious the incident is. But here I am only concerned about the small and silly things.
  2. The joke is about a set of people, who chose where they belong: People sometimes don’t laugh because they feel the joke hurts a certain set of people. In that case, ask the question does the set to which people belong a conscious choice of their own. For example, if there is a joke criticizing Flat earth people, I enjoy it completely. The flat earth idea is something people chose to believe consciously despite of the overwhelming evidence that it is not. But if someone made a joke on short people(like me) or tall people, that’s not funny! No one consciously chooses their height. In simpler words, if the categorization is done by nature without the person’s conscious will, it is not right to joke.

It is silly to take humor this seriously, but I guess it happens when you watch funny videos and memes too much. Making jokes that offend minimum number of people is an art according to me. If you are someone, who believes the same, you will enjoy works of artists like Bhuvan Bam, RSM and Ryan George.