No sense of humor at all

I have a friend who has no sense of humor at all. She will laugh when someone tells a joke that it obvious that it has a punchline and is harmless. But she hates a joke that she thinks is designed to “manipulate” her into laughing. Anybody have any insight into this sort of thing?

Are you sure that’s really what the issue is? Because if you’re expecting someone to laugh at pratfalls, or fart and knock-knock jokes–that could be the real problem. Some people need finesse in their humor.

She actually refers to it as “manipulating [her] into laughing”? That is a strange concept. What does she mean?

Does it mean she hates laughing at other people’s misfortunes? Some people don’t like insult-based humor. You did mention that she laughs at things that are harmless, right?

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like the very definition of a joke.

We had a long discussion about it, and she refers to it as “manipulating”. Thanks for asking for clarification. I tell jokes all day long, most of them are not funny, but about every fifth or so, everything comes together. If it happens to be about something innocuous, she will laugh and say “that was very funny.” She laughs at farts, but not jokes about farts. In short, she probably thinks farts themselves are funny, but she fakes laughing at jokes. “Two silk worms are in a race, they wind up in a tie.” She laughs, but it is a fake laugh followed by “that’s funny.” Is she an alien come to take over our planet?

I’ve never met anyone with absolutely no sense of humor. I’m not sure such people exist. Or indeed if they’d want to exist.

It seems your friend likes silly wordplay. Why does her laugh seem fake to you? If she were faking her laugh, wouldn’t she laugh at more than one out of five of your jokes?

I think I totally get what she means about being manipulated into laughing. I would not find your silk worm pun funny. I would smile and acknowledge the wordplay, but it wouldn’t actually make me laugh. If, however, you managed to work a joke like that into an actual relevant situation, like if you actually SAW a couple of silk worms that appeared to be racing, and you quipped that they were likely to end up in a tie, that would be hilarious!

I think what she means by the “manipulate her into laughing” thing is that if you are just being random joke generator guy, telling jokes pretty much pulled from a joke book with no rhyme or reason for the when and where it’s told, all HYUK HYUK, AIN’T THAT JUST A RIOT?!, it doesn’t really amuse her. I feel similarly, and lump that kind of humour into the same category as people who just quote lines from movies (which may have been perfectly funny in the movie) with no context and expect people to laugh. They both have a very trying-too-hard to get laughs type feel to them, hence, feeling “manipulated” into laughing.

I know I am pickier than some about what makes me laugh, but for me it is most often a perfect one-liner that just fits the situation perfectly. Cheesy jokes can make me laugh if told very very rarely and with a sort of over-the-top enthusiasm that sort of acknowledges the stupidity of it.

Then again, though, you say that farts make her laugh, so unless she’s three, I’m not sure I am on the same page as her at all…

Edited to add a real-life example I just thought of: Recently my husband and I were attempting to paint a high, awkward corner of a wall, and managed to do so by him balancing on a ladder and me balancing partially on his knee and partially on a window sill, and the whole thing was perfectly undignified and graceless. I joked that we were like an elderly, untalented circus act, and he replied, “Cirque du Ben-Gay!” I found that funny. However, if a random buddy said to me out of nowhere, “Did you hear about that new circus starring old people? They’re calling it Cirque du Ben-Gay!” Not funny.

Never been to the DMV I’m guessing.

Not sure if it’s the same thing, but I knew a woman who was a something or other in English Literature (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten if it was a doctorate, or what, she had) and she was very very finiky about grammar, diction etc. Jokes to her were a waste of time and made no sense, she rarely laughed at anything …

She says “Oh, Ha Ha, that’s very funny”. It’s not the same laugh as when a fart sneaks out, which is a real laugh. And it’s not just my jokes.

Well you know what they about people who can’t take a joke. Did you try that?

“We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we’re aware of.”

Not recently and no intention of trying again.

Could you give more examples of what she laughs at, what she fake-laughs at and what she stares blankly at?

[Bolding mine] Dead on, straight up. The problem with puns is that most people bend over backwards to contrive situations to bring them up–they’re trying too hard to make a pun happen. It’s annoying, not witty.

Yes, not funny. That’s why stand-up isn’t funny for me, either.

The art of humor is in context–if the context is too contrived, I’m not going to laugh either. As I said above, some people expect their humor to have finesse.

Some people really are humor-impaired. They understand there is a concept called a joke and that the correct social response is to laugh when you hear a joke (this may be the manipulation your friend is talking about). But they don’t actually understand whether or not something is funny.

Try the irony test on them. Irony is something that’s funny but is pretending to be serious. People with a sense of humor will sport the funny and “get it”. The humor-impaired will not - they will take the irony at its surface appearance because there won’t be the usual cues that it’s a joke.

Does she know about these boards?

Does she have other problems with not understanding what’s going on in conversation? I mean, does she take sarcasm at face value, or seem to be oblivious when people are lying to her, or just trying to make her feel better?

I think I have a great sense of humor, and most of jokes I hear from people throughout the day, just aren’t funny. There’s a reason why most people aren’t professional comedians. And it can be awkward when someone tells a joke and it met with complete silence. So I can see why she might feel “manipulated” into laughing, especially if she around someone who tells jokes all day.

I once had a coworker who had lots of lame routines and racist/sexist/dirty jokes that were basically not that funny. Coworker had no timing, no delivery, and as I said the jokes were lame, old, and for example the punchline of one of them was something to the effect of Sammy Davis Jr. coming in a white box, so racist, unfunny, and tragically out of date.

I would have laughed at most of them if he’d been my boss, but he wasn’t. So he probably thought I had no sense of humor at all.

The thing is, if my boss at the time had told some of these jokes, they WOULD have been funny, because he had the timing, or something–the right kind of attitude. He could be a really funny guy. (Also an ogre, but the less said about that, the better.) A hell of a lot of it’s in the delivery.

PS I would have laughed at the silkworm thing, probably. I wouldn’t have fallen on the floor or anything, but definitely worth a chuckle.