Humor sometimes requires a target. If you make a bulls-eye out of someone weaker, particularly if you initiate the attack, you look like a bully. Take aim, instead, at the powerful. Or, rather than getting upset, consider yourself lucky when someone makes you a target first.
Because, as Isaac Asimov observed, “For a humane person, the put-down is most satisfactory and most easily greeted with pleasurable laughter when the person being put down has done something to invite it – in other words, if he has attacked. Then it is lunge-and-riposte and at the riposte we can laugh with a clear conscience.”
“Those oxygen masks on airplanes? I don’t think there’s really any oxygen. I think they’re just to muffle the screams.” ~ Rita Rudner
Examples of unifying humor that tap into the universal “us” can pop up most anywhere:
• After a mad cow scare, a subscriber to my blog sent me this bumper sticker: “Montana – At least our cows are sane!”
• Commenting on the human condition: “God pulled an all-nighter on the sixth day.”
• I saw this emblazoned on the tee shirt worn by a man who ran into the open door when rushing out of a San Diego beach shop: “The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.”
For inspiration on stating the obvious, look at some newspaper headlines:
• “Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link” ~ Cornell Daily Sun
• “Lack of Brains Hinders Research” ~ The Columbus Dispatch
• Lily Tomlin said, “Nobody is here without a reason. … I like a huge range of comedy but I always wanted my comedy to be more embracing of the species rather than debasing of it.” At my Forbes column see the rest of the ways to pull others closer and bring out their better side (and yours) using humor.