In his article “Notes on What’s So Damn Funny” [September 2014], Joseph Epstein asks whether humor can be usefully studied and codified in the way of other phenomena.
That we have brains with a million-billion connections between neurons, that humor—a totally psychological phenomenon—springs from the mystery of the generation of consciousness, and that we do not understand how consciousness is produced provides the answer to Mr. Epstein’s question: No—we are not yet ready for a code for humor and may never be.
Mr. Epstein’s fine article reminds me of a quote from Cicero describing what makes something funny: “An indecency decently put is the/Thing we laugh at hardest.”
Without laughter, the world would lose an important check on common sense. As William James noted, “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.”
Steven J. Ceresnie