Part 3 — Humor
Maria: Now, we’ve been talking about a funny situation, and I’d like to discuss with you one or two more general questions related to this. Let’s talk about humor. Do you think a sense of humor is important?
Rory: Oh, yes, it’s absolutely crucial. It helps you cope with stress. And I really think it helps people regulate their emotions. If you never laugh, then you suppress a lot of these feelings. And that can be quite damaging, actually. Another reason is that it helps you find common ground with people if you can share a laugh together.
Maria: Is humor easy to translate from one language to another?
Rory: I think practical jokes and almost slapstick comedyб because everyone can see it and appreciate it. That’s easy to translate. It’s not something that I like, but I think a lot of people can understand it. But for other elements of humor, like dark humor, not every culture can get that. I noticed, for example, that as you move further east from America, the humor tends to get darker and darker. And people… Until you come to Russia and it all seems like people are doing bad things to each other just “because”. So that can sometimes be something that’s lost in translation, I think.
Maria: Can humor be useful in learning another language?
Rory: I think in terms of teaching the language, it’s good if your teacher has a sense of humor because you relax more and then you’ll be more receptive, for example. But as a learner… I don’t know. I suppose it would take the edge off being stressed. Definitely.
Maria: Do you think that when people laugh, it’s always genuine or sometimes people can even fake it.
Rory: I think people do put on their laughter sometimes. I think you can tell because it seems to me that the pitch of people’s laughter can tell you a lot about her genuine it is. If it’s like a really really high pitch, almost unnatural, then it seems to me like it’s fake or less genuine.
Maria: How do you think laughter can be used in a negative way?
Rory: I think it’s combined with bullying. For example, if you’re laughing at someone as opposed to laughing with them, then you can use it in a very negative way, almost to lower someone’s self-esteem, really, And that’s not very nice.
Maria: Do you think that the less people laugh, the older they get?
Rory: Maybe not older, but certainly they seem to become more serious or behave in a more mature way. We usually associate people laughing and joking around with being less mature, maybe, more childish and younger. However, I suppose… Laughter also decreases stress in people as well, doesn’t it? So if you decrease the stress which can cause you to age, then actually maybe it would make you seem a little bit younger.