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Behind The Laughs: 5 Psychological Truths About Being Funny

Ever look at a comedian and wonder what makes them go up on stage, speak their minds so clearly and make us laugh at the same time? There’s a lot going on in their minds. Some call it the darker side of humor. And maybe there’s some truth to it. Here’s a psychological take on what it takes to be funny.

1. Most Of Them Are Secretly Sad

Studies reveal humor as a mask for depression and hopelessness

You’ve probably heard of this several times. Being funny comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Jim Carrey, Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres — they have all gone through bouts of depression throughout their life. In fact, one study even revealed humor was a mask for depression and hopelessness.1 And it doesn’t help that most funny people prefer being antisocial. But why is it happening? A study suggests being creative plays a part. People with more creativity tend to have an increased risk of depression and bipolar disorder.2 Psychologists also believe comedians like to escape their anxiety and sorrow by being making people laugh.

2. There’s A Clash In Their Personality

Funny people are mix of an introvert an extrovert

There’s a lot going on in their personalities. Funny people are extroverted. But they are introverted as well. If you look a little closer, some of them are shy and reserved. Psychologists reveal they tend to be a mix of extroverted impulsiveness and introverted anhedonia (a reduced ability to feel social pleasure). Also, a recent study revealed comedians scored high on psychotic characteristics, which included anti-social behavior and a tendency to avoid intimacy3  Some experts say this complexity is what gives them a different perspective of everything around them.

3. There’s A Power Play Involved

There's A Power Play Involved

Every joke is sort of a power play. It’s either making a joke at a group of people or it’s directed at themselves. And everything goes through a series of manipulation. When a joke is being directed at a group, the person exert’s a level of influence over their audience. But that doesn’t mean making fun of yourself any less innocent. Experts say self-depreciating humor works best in a certain way. It needs to be witty, smart, and above all, it needs to make the audience feel better about themselves.

A popular 1975 study revealed humor was used as a way for comedians to feel like they have control over situations that they normally feel powerless.4

4. Humor Comes From A Dark Place

The source of humor is usually dark

A humor research lab revealed while humor makes people laugh, it also needs to be unsettling and threatening for it to work. It’s the way comedians can get away by telling the truth. And it’s the way people deal with life’s small and big injustices. Or break tensions, the study says.

5. It Pays Better To Be The Audience

Laughter is good for your physical and emotional health

Turns out, it’s beneficial to be the audience of a joke than the one who makes it. Why? Science confirms laughter is good for your physical and emotional health. Also, a study reveals appreciating humor can even influence your lifespan till 75 years, after which your genetics and biological factors begin playing the dominant part.5

The Good Side Of Being Funny

Funny people have more intelligence and creativity

It’s not all grim news. There’s a lot of good things going on for a funny person.

Higher IQ And More Creative: Satire involves an unusual brain wiring. In fact, research says funny people tend to have more intelligence.6 Boys and girls with a great sense of humor have better cognitive abilities. This is what makes them able to make up a joke, say it smart, and respond much quicker than a normal person. The study also says even appreciating good humor is a mark of a higher-than-average intelligence. Another study was conducted to find a relation among creativity, intelligence, and humor. They found out humor was a mark of both creativity and intelligence.7

More Charming: No surprise here! People are easily drawn to those who make them laugh. They find it easier to make friends and research claims they have more sexual partners than other people.

The next time you listen to a person with a great sense of humor, remember, there’s a lot of hidden depth in their personality.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. ‘Psychotic personality’ could be key to making people laugh. Oxford University.
2. Andreasen, Nancy C. “The relationship between creativity and mood disorders.” Dialogues in clinical neuroscience 10, no. 2 (2008): 251.
4. S. Janus, Samuel. The Great Comedians: Personality and Other Factors. the American Journal of Psychoanalysis 35 (1975):169-174.
5. Svebak, Sven, Solfrid Romundstad, and Jostein Holmen. “A 7-year prospective study of sense of humor and mortality in an adult county population: The HUNT-2 study.” The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 40, no. 2 (2010): 125-146.
6. Greengross, Gil, and Geoffrey Miller. “Humor ability reveals intelligence, predicts mating success, and is higher in males.” Intelligence 39, no. 4 (2011): 188-192.
7. Hauck, William E., and John W. Thomas. “The relationship of humor to intelligence, creativity, and intentional and incidental learning.” The journal of experimental education 40, no. 4 (1972): 52-55.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.