The Laughable Human

The reading by Bergson, From Laughter, I found Bergson’s point that he stated, comedy and laughter are intertwined with the human principle, to be very compelling. I hadn’t thought of how most everything, if not all, is funny only because of its relationship to humans. Having the human component linked to the punch line is what Bergson argues as fundamental. I completely agree with him that we only laugh at something with a human touch, but I wonder if it is due to the fact that we only truly understand the human world. Bergson’s argument made me wonder, can we, as humans, laugh at something we don’t completely understand?

Bergson gave examples of when we laugh at objects or animals it is due to their human qualities. My first instinct was to reject this thought, because it seemed unreasonable that we only laugh at qualities of humans. I tried to come up with some example in which I would laugh at some object without human qualities. I failed to come up with something, but maybe that’s just due to my lack of comedic genius that others around me often possess. Thinking about Bergson’s point, I came to a conclusion that he must be right, and we only will find something comedic if it has human qualities.

My final thought on the matter slightly contradicts what I just stated. Although I find Bergson to be correct, I don’t understand what compels us to laugh when we compare humans to animals. Meaning people will often laugh at animal qualities in humans, but we wouldn’t just laugh at an animal for being that way. Perhaps it goes with the thought of incongruity and that we don’t expect a human to act like an animal and that’s funny, but an animal would most certainly act like itself.


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