Saving Us from Ourselves: Didactic Humor That Hits Home

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With DVR, it’s rare these days that we actually watch a commercial, but this one grabbed us last night:

Afterward, Hubby confessed, “Um, that was totally me today. Oops.”

A few weeks ago watching The Colbert Report we heard author Sherry Turkle describe how two people can be sitting together, like at dinner, and not even acknowledge each other because they’re busy using their computer devices (or something like that; I’m paraphrasing). We looked at each other and made a pact that we would shut our laptops and put down our phones during dinner from then on and actually interact with our kids.

But what’s funny about it is that The Colbert Report is on Comedy Central, and Colbert himself never appears to take any of his guests seriously. The Windows Phone ad is humorous. It’s sort of like the post I wrote a few months ago about how sit coms foster maturity, though in that one I focused on the story aspect rather than the humor.

What is it about humor?

Well, let’s think. Laughter supposedly makes you live longer by releasing endorphins or whatever.

Being able to laugh at yourself is supposed to be good therapy.

Southwest Airlines proves that humor can help people pay attention to things they would otherwise tune out, like flight safety information (if you’ve never flown Southwest, get a taste here).

We know that jokes succeed thanks to irony, which is when the actual is different from our expectations — in other words, surprising.

And in the book Make It Stick, surprise is listed as one of the qualifications for helping a message have a lasting impact because our brains are programmed to let things go in one ear and out the other if they “make sense” (why waste energy filing away something we already know?) whereas our eyebrows shoot up and our eyes go wide at a surprise, across all nationalities and cultures, because we’re hard-wired to soak in as much new information as we can when something doesn’t match our expectations (our brain wants to “know better next time”).

Maybe this means I should be telling more jokes in class!

But it definitely means we’re hooked on The Colbert Report, and now I get to claim that it’s good for me. After all, it makes us laugh at ourselves: “Look at what we learn from comedy!”

Leave a comment!

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4 responses »

  1. I love that commercial! Thanks for posting it or I wouldn’t have seen it.

    I know I need humor in my life which is probably why I love reading Terry Pratchett. I laugh harder every time I read one of his books (mainly because I get older and finaly understand another joke I missed because of immaturity). His works are also very thought provoking. Currently I am reading “Making Money” which in less than two chapters has revealed a lot of upcoming satire and political humor. I gain a better appreciation for real life through his fantasy world.

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I love that YouTube lets us share this kind of stuff so easily.

      And yeah, now that you mention it, it does remind me of Belle walking around with her nose in the book in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. 🙂

      Like

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