Humour exists so that we can laugh at situations that are horrible, because it helps us deal with those situations.
Of course, if something terrible has happened to you and somebody made fun out of you, it isn’t funny. But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to laugh at jokes that may be about a touchy subject, but aren’t directly aimed at anybody.
I find I think of the saying ‘If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’. There’s already a lot of sadness and misery in the world – why do we have to wallow about it and force ourselves to be sad all the time.
Joking about a particular subject doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. It just means we are able to laugh at a situation that’s downright awful, so we stop feeling negative about the world.
That is until the joke is directed at someone. I’m all for jokes and banter, but the minute it is about someone, or the moment somebody finds a joke more offensive than funny, it’s not a joke any more.
If you are in a room full of people who are laughing and having ‘fun’, but it is at the expense of somebody else, you should be able to differentiate between what is right and wrong.
You should be able to sense whether a joke is making someone feel uncomfortable or is upsetting someone, and if you can’t, maybe you shouldn’t be telling jokes.
What’s worse, is if you can see that someone is the centre of a joke and they’re not comfortable about it, yet you carry on laughing, or fail to intervene and say that it’s wrong.
I get it. It’s hard to stand up and be the first person to say that someone should stop, or be the person to point out that it’s not nice to make fun out of people. Who knows, you could be made fun of next.
But you might not be the only one who is thinking this.
For example, a woman is the subject of a sexually orientated joke in a room full of men, and you can see that she is not happy about the situation. A few other people have noticed her reaction and have seen the expression on her face, but they continue to laugh and jeer, because everybody else is.
I suppose you can call it adult peer pressure.
But, if you are the one to say: “Come on guys, pack it in,” then you won’t be seen as an accomplice. You won’t be the person that she thinks is against her, or the person who she believes just stood by and let it happen.
Be brave. Have fun, have a laugh, but know where the line is.