A friend of mine floated a cool idea regarding humor. We all know that humor comes in various species: irony, farce, slapstick, etc. etc. But we lack a scale of how skilled a bit of humor is. There is a world of difference between the appropriate bit of humor inserted into a cocktail party and the art of finding the humorous thing to say in the midst of a funeral.
Humor, like enthusiasm, is not self-moderating. A classroom of high school students can trivially be drawn into an escalating chain reaction. It’s ironic; teachers who labor to nurture wit find it necessary to quench even the slightest fission of humor because their charges are such ill-trained humorists.
Of course all emotions run the risk of running off into exaggerated forms. Stress, panic, depression, etc. etc. The wonder of humor is its ability to call them back down out of the stratosphere. It’s a high art of getting it just right. A skill we have all observed in talented people around us. Injecting just the right bit of wit into a situation, diffusing at least a portion of the escalating emotions.
If this talent had a name you could put on a job description! Awards could be granted: “Best pun used in an IRS audit.” High school councilors could advise students join the guild. An international society could be formed. States could grant and revoke licenses. Weighty text books and complimentary multi-media virtual world educational games could be sold at great cost to state school boards.
Those that take life or themselves too seriously become fodder for the good humored. The best survival trait I ever picked up was the ability to laugh at myself and the second best was my ability to laugh at the world. If everyone had at least that first trait, we could all be a little happier, and if everyone had that second trait, we could all remind each other about the first trait. Nice post. I especially liked the jab at the teacher irony.