Weird jokes in incredibly bad taste and the nature of humor

This thread was closed and resulted in a warning not only from Tuba Diva but from Ed Zotti as well. The OP apologized after the fact for making a joke about inducing abortion in his pregnant girlfriend by beating the fetus to death, and posting it for comment in MPSIMS.

I take the otherwise mostly well behaved OP’s contrition seriously, but the joke and the responses did cause me to wonder about why some grown up people think that stunningly shocking and grotesque things will be funny to other people. Like dead baby jokes or farting some nasty blast and then closing the covers around your SO for a “dutch oven”.

What makes insanely grotesque stuff funny to some people? Is it that some things ar so far around the end they become funny in an absurd way?

I think you nailed it on the head. Talking about putting dead babies in blenders can be some warped kind of humour because it is so incredibly not funny that it seems like the only reaction to something that absurd is to laugh.

'Least, that’s how I see it.

I love these discussions about humor; I find it a fascinating subject.

I think that jokes like the one referenced are found funny by some because it’s unexpected. The revolting nature of the joke makes even more unexpected.

I have an appallingly sick sense of humour. Part of the humour of the sick lies for me in how far across the boundaries of taste one can go. However, the SDMB is populated by so many people who object to that sort of thing that I’d never even think about posting jokes like that here. I knew Anal_Scurvy’s post was a sick joke, or about gallows humour, and I wasn’t offended, but I kind of understand why the board management feel the need to stop that sort of thing. The meltdown would have been spectacular.

I guess the absurdism has an attraction. Monty Python’s butchered knight wouldn’t be funny in real life. Just like dead babies aren’t.

There’s also the tendency to laugh at sick jokes when you’ve seen it all, heard it all and are un-shockable. Not nice, but sadly, true.

We laugh at sick and tasteless humor because we’re all gonna die one day and there’s not a thing we can do about it.

As Stephen King put it in the “Green Mile”: It’s always funny when someone is caught with his pants down and his dick up and it’s not you.

Heinlein said in “Stranger in a Strange Land” that man is the ape that laughs because it hurts too much to cry. I have long ago given up trying to understand humor. Some of my closest friends, good and very intelligent people, think that potty humor is hilarious. We will talk about poop just about anywhere, anytime. I never got it and gave up trying to get them to forego it. Humor can’t be explained.

What he said.

As a newbie to this board, I have to say I’ve noticed already that most attempts at comedy for the sake of comedy don’t fare very well here.

I’m not saying that the OP’s cited “joke” was funny, because it wasn’t. But that’s the point - it simply wasn’t funny. It seemed obvious to me that the poster didn’t have an “evil agenda” intention by posting it, so I wasn’t offended. I just wasn’t amused.

To me, the offensiveness quotient of humour is based on intent, not content. But I don’t operate as if that’s the consensus view on this message board - or most message boards with a large diverse membership.

Shocking or tasteless humour works best if it comes from a professional comedian known for indulging in “sick” humour - because we don’t question the intention (except for those who think that everyone in the entertainment field are liberal commie pinko punks who are trying to destroy the world).

An alternative is if it’s directed to a specific group of people from an accepted member of that group.

But even on a board of this size and diversity, there are usually some group specific parameters for what is or isn’t acceptable and/or funny. I’m not sure yet what the “cutting edge” is on SDMB. Anyone?

I thought it was kinda funny. Not “laugh out loud” funny, but made me chuckle a little. Then again, I have a rather omnivorous sense of humor.

Did anyone seriously think that the OP of the linked thread wasn’t joking? I can’t imagine anyone thinking that he would actually do such a thing.

That said, I can understand why the thread was closed. I’m a bit leery of the new rule against “revolting” or “appalling” stuff, mostly because I really don’t have any idea what is allowed and what isn’t, but I trust the mods here.

I didn’t find the joke funny, but I just didn’t think it was told all that well. Sick humor in general is something I enjoy and understand. I have found the line at the SDMB to be very tightly patrolled. I would not dare risk crossing it lest I be roundly chastised by the offended parties.

At the same time I get the feeling that even when someone is pitted for causing offense we are seeing only a small minority that gets riled up. The same names crop up time and again to voice their offense at sick humor or the use of a mildly offensive term.

I have been known to turn the most horrible of ideas into humor. In fact, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to make somebody laugh at something that is not only not funny, but completely offensive. It doesn’t matter how jaded you are, I will find out what offends you and make you laugh at it.

Of course, that’s only if I like you and know you can handle it.

For me, it’s not a mean spirited thing. I find all of our little inhumanites to each other to be completely repulsive and terrible.

I think for most people who indulge in “sick” humor, it’s not about trying to insult and denigrate people. It’s more about crossing lines of “good taste”. It’s shocking to hear somebody say something completely terrible, and it brings up a sense of the unexpected, which is so much the core of laughter.

To take an easy example, if you heard a white supremacist make a racist joke, you would be repulsed. But if you heard somebody of the same race being denigrated tell you the joke in a knowing fashion, you would probably laugh. Well, if the joke was funny.

Note, sick humor only works with an audience that knows the comedian is joking. I can tell horrible jokes because I know the people listening will know that I am being “humorous”. They know I don’t actually think the things I am joking about are actually funny. For some reason an idea that is completely horrible in every way in form can elicit laughter. I think it’s the absurdity of it, and the fact that there is also a terrible element of truth.

But then, the joke is often in the delivery. And trying to tell a sick joke, without all the social cues of physical presence, is just asking for trouble.

Anyway, I lost the thread of a good explanation of sick humor. To sum up, I guess, sick humor is not about the actual subject (beating a woman into abortion is not funny), it’s more about crossing social and moral taboos in unexpected, yet safe, ways in conversation. Why is the horrible funny? I don’t know. But I guarantee you we all laugh at it in one way or another.

P.S. I view humor and laughter as its own beast. It doesn’t necessarily deal with the subject, but is more of a human condition, following its own rules. Laugh while you can, monkey boy.

As for the OP, I honestly don’t know… but I suspect it has something to do with the reason so many people watch shows like Fear Factor and Survivor and Real TV.

Humans seem to enjoy the idea of other humans in pain or discomfort.