What is humor?

Humor is an entertaining form of communication which attempts to make someone feel cheerful and happy. Those things that are considered humorous are in some way comical or funny, cause amusement and may cause laughing. The term originates from the "four humours" ancient Greek concept that was a theory of what caused human emotion.

Humor can cover a wide range of subjects, including common subjects such as computers and politics. 'Twisted' humor covers subjects that are seen as 'odd' by some people. Different types of humor are more appealing to different people based on their sense of humor, background and demographics. Many cultures have jokes that ridicule other cultures and there are also jokes for many occupations and genders. Slapstick humor and puns are popular with children, while satire and parodies are popular among an older audience.

What are the characteristics of humor?

All forms of humor require some form of contradiction, irony or unique interpretation that leads to suspense or surprise. Often this will be in the form of contrasting one thing against other things or against one's expectations. Several figures of speech and other language techniques are used to develop a contrast or contradiction, such as irony, sarcasm, satire, paraprosdokian, ambiguity, hyperbole and onomatopoeia.

In most cases humor appeals to one's emotions, making one feel happy and laugh as a result. Although humor can be based around a dark and unpleasant reality, such as death, it is essentially fictional in nature. Because of this, one can laugh at something that may be sad or depressing. Humor may be presented in a variety of formats, such as similes, methaphors and changes in perspective. The time and situation also influences how humorous something might be.