Humor is theorized to have started out as an early signal between primitive humans that there was no danger present and could therefore relax and interact with each other socially, making it an evolutionary strength that certain humans possessed and others didn’t.

Our ancestors had different vocalizations that signaled a wide range of things, but the main two that are important here were “danger” and “play”. Individuals who could determine that they were safe and make the noises that signaled “play” were thought of to be ‘funny’ in a way. In the same vein, these noises were an early form of laughter, which is most likely the reason why most people today laugh when presented with something humorous.

The early humans who couldn’t pick up on the cues of safety would lash out or react in strange ways, which wouldn’t help them find mates and pass on that gene. Vice versa, those who thought a “danger” signal was the opposite easily became casualties from their inability to be serious in a serious situation, which also led to that gene not being passed on either.

Humans who could differentiate between danger and safety passed on their genes, eventually leading to us taking pleasure in jokes today. Instead of humor being thought of as a form of safety now, it’s more used for bonding and fun and we’re able to understand more complex jokes than millions of years before.

For instance, we could use a joke about a fly walking into a bar. First of all, we know that flies don’t walk into bars, providing us with a small puzzle that our brains want to make sense of. It creates a small underlying sense of anxiety because we want the situation to be resolved in a logical way.

That’s where the punchline of the joke comes in, which is that the fly goes up to a man at the bar and says, “I like the stool you’re sitting on.” The word “stool” can have two meanings: the object we sit on, and poop. Our brains were able to make an understanding of the initial part of the joke (but not directly because of the double meaning of “stool”), which eases the sense of anxiety from the set up and amuses us.

As a whole, humor is associated with positive emotions and making social connections with others, making it a huge part of human nature and a key part of life.

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Claire B
October 18, 2021 8:23 pm

Hey Benny, this was a really well put together post. I guess I’ve never considered this question but it’s cool to find the reason behind it. I find it crazy how far back humor goes. And how it was originally used as a primal instinct thing. It’s interesting how humor evolved from a sort of survival method to something that connects people and lifts our mood. Really great thoughts Benny, thanks for posting!

October 18, 2021 3:21 pm

Dear Benny:
I am interested in your post, “How Has Humor Evolved Over Time,” because it’s interesting to see how humor is taken in when someone makes a joke and how the human mind processes the joke. As well as, how over the years our minds have changed to understand jokes.
One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “As a whole, humor is associated with positive emotions and making social connections with others, making it a huge part of human nature and a key part of life.” I think this is interesting because it shows how important humor is in life. As humor connects people to one another and can bring positivity.
Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I like how informative you were about how overtime humor evolved. I also like the way you worded your information. 
Vivianne

James
October 14, 2021 4:42 pm

Dear Benny, I am amazed by your post “How has Humor Evolved over Time” becuase I didn’t know our ancestors had different vocalizations that signaled a wide range of things, but the main two that are important here were danger” and play.

The most important thing that caught my attention was when you said “Humans who could differentiate between danger and safety passed on their genes, eventually leading to us taking pleasure in jokes today”. I think this is important becuase instead of humor being thought of as a form of safety now, it’s more used for bonding and fun and we’re able to understand more complex jokes.

Thanks for writing this post. I look forward to any future posts. I hope for you to answer more of life’s greatest questions! Thanks.

September 29, 2021 8:25 pm

Benny, I had not much understanding of how humans came to understand humor and laughing. But after reading this, I see a logical explanation for how humans came to learn humor and how it is associated with social connections and emotional connections.

The thing that caught my attention was the quote “ Vice versa, those who thought a “danger” signal was the opposite easily became casualties from their inability to be serious in a serious situation, which also led to that gene not being passed on either.” This caught my eye because it is really interesting to think about how there are still people today who have an inability to be serious in a serious situation and how it had evolved to become a key part of our daily lives. This post makes me question whether my humor is from my environment or genetics. What factor has a greater influence? This post has some good explanations that would compel me to come back to it.

Thanks for writing this post. I look forward to any future posts because this one interested me with just the questions but I stayed because of the wonderful explanation. I hope for you to answer more of life’s greatest questions! Thanks.

Alex
September 21, 2021 4:46 am

Benny, I had no idea where humor came from before reading this post, so very interesting topic! The major thing that stood out to me was the idea that humor is related to genetic traits that are passed on. You talked about some people in the past being able to balance survival signals with safety signals, and this would mean that people now (descendants) could be funny because it is built in to their genetic code. Seems crazy and makes me wonder if I’m inherently funny. I’d be interested in learning more on how much of an effect genetics have on humor vs. environment as well. In my experience, environment plays a huge role. I have the same humor style as the people around me like my dad and my friends. Is this because of genetics or environment? I’m not sure but which factor has a greater influence could be something interesting to look in to. Thanks for your post!

September 20, 2021 3:19 am

Dear Benny,

I am amazed with your post, “How Has Humor Evolved Overtime?” because I didn’t know that our ancestors had special methods to communicate with each other that were rather humorous or a sign of danger. That really had me wondering what they sounded like.

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “Our ancestors had different vocalizations that signaled a wide range of things, but the main two that are important here were “danger” and “play”.” I think this is important because it gives us that message on how communication is important. In this case it tells me that our ancestors had some form of codes to secretly tell eachother one thing while making it sound as if they’re saying something else.

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because based off this posts it seems as if you have a lot more interesting things to talk about. Hopefully next time there is something else from you that is just as interesting to read.

-Sophia

September 19, 2021 9:59 pm

Dear Benny,

I am impressed by your post, “How Has Humor Evolved Overtime?” because it is impressive how our ancestors had different vocalizations and the main vocalizations are danger and play. I never knew that our ancestors had vocalizations to determine humor.

One sentence you wrote that stands out to me is: ” humor is associated with positive emotions and making social connections with others, making it a huge part of human nature and a key part of life.” I think this is interesting because I never looked at humor as making it a huge key part of life through social connections. I have always seen humor as just people being goofy or funny in general without the act of being serious.

Well, Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because your post helps me understand how humor has evolved. If this post helps me understand many things, I’m sure your other posts will too.

-Jennifer

Last edited 28 days ago by Jennifer G

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