Chapter 4

Elements of Emotion


The Science of Humor is the science of emotion, delivering, sharing and enjoying emotions  with other people. If emotions come on fast, strong and have a short life they can create laughter. The following are different Elements of Emotion that are important to the Science of Humor. 


The Greeks had a perfect understanding of the word comedy. To the Greeks comedy is tragedy from a different point of view. The Greeks used the happy and sad faces back to back. A comedian is one who can make you see that which is tragic, from a different view point. 


A comedian is one that gives a perspective of something that is tragic from a different point of view. This requires a dichotomy. This is an example of a dichotomy.


What is the first thing that strikes when you go to New York City?                           A YELLOW TAXI!!!


If the first thing that you thought of was tall buildings, then the taxi is superimposed on the tall buildings, and it becomes a dichotomy. If a big yellow taxi ran over you then that would be a tragedy, then this would be categorized as comedy. If tall buildings was the answer, tall buildings are not a tragedy, so this is not considered comedy.


Tragedy is drama based on human suffering. A paper cut can be considered to be a tragedy to the person who received it. A finger being cut off can be a thing of indifference to a leper. A leper loses feelings in their extremities. Lack of sensations whether they be psychological, mental or physical will determine whether something is a tragedy to a person or a thing of indifference.

Tragedy provokes this paradoxical or opposing point of view. Paradox is a football player in a tutu, or a cheerleader in the front line of a football team. A paradox is a true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies logic or intuition.


The punch lines in comedy will cause laughter less than .05% of the time. Even less if you take away the nervous laugh. Nine times out of ten the laugh from an adult is a nervous laugh. Children laugh fifty to sixty times a day. Adults three to five times a day.

Children seldom have a nervous laugh, and they almost never laugh at comedic punch lines for adults. Punch lines for adults usually exaggerate 2% to 5%. For comedy to work with kids you have to exaggerate 30% to 50%.


Tragedy is what happens to you. Comedy is what happens to someone else. Any tragedy by the observer can truly be worse. If asked how a tragedy could be any worse, people will always respond or think, “Well it could have happened to me.”


Ask someone to come up with a hundred original jokes per hour, and they will have a hard time. A person will have no problem if you ask them  to come up with a hundred tragedies that have happened to them or to someone they know, or to anyone! Ask them to rate a tragedy from one to ten and they will tell you a pie in the face is a one or close to it. A close encounter with a chainsaw is closer to a ten (The chainsaw won America's  funniest home videos). The greater the tragedy, the greater chance the comedic punch line will have power.  If you want to create a thousand jokes an hour, one way is to take a thousand tragedies and look at them from a different point of view.   

Comedy is a powerful weapon against terrorists, bullies, and dictators.. They are incapable of seeing anything from a different point of view.  Laughter is our only effective weapon against radical aggression.        




Humor originally refers to fluids that were flowing in your body. If you had “good” humors, then you would have a good mood. If you had “bad” humors, then you would have a bad mood.  Science has found that our moods and depend on the movement of, and  information in these fluids that are flowing throughout our bodies. Hormones, neurotransmitters and short chained proteins are what are circulating in the fluid throughout our bodies. These humors or fluids will relate or transmit information from one part of the body to another. A hormone is any chemical created in one part of the body that performs an action in another part of the body.


Every humor creates a different emotion. Every emotion will create a different laugh. Laughter is the body communicating to others around it, how it feels. 


In The Science of Humor we are only talking about emotions that come on fast, strong, and have a short life. This is what I am referring to as Humor. If the emotion comes on slowly, is weak, or has a long life, then this is not a humor. Any emotion that comes on fast, strong and with a short life can create a laugh. Every different emotion creates a different laugh. Every laugh that is duplicated will duplicate the emotion. Strong emotions that do not have a short life, do not cause laughter.


You could recreate these emotions in other people by recreating the laugh of that emotion. Try an evil laugh among a group of children, and you will find that they will all become frightened. Try an aggressive laugh among a group of people, and they will become defensive. When you are speaking with a group, you can control the emotions of your listeners with your laughter alone. If you can insert an emotion into your audience, then they will respond with the correct laughter that fits the emotion. This way you will know that you got your point across.


With these emotions, you can mix and match more than one emotion, as you know that you can be afraid and surprised at the same time, you can have anticipation and feel joy at the same time. As the body transmits different fluids, hormones and chemicals that communicate different ideas and states throughout the body, with an audience you can communicate the ideas and states with laughter.




Mirth is a state and of mind (a happy joyful, festive, carnival, childlike) were the best laughs (the laughs that do good things) happen. Mirth is unbridled joy and wonderment that is communicated among a group. You may have experienced this by watching young children playing, and their constant laughter and screaming.


Mirth is not a thing or a place. Mirth is a state of mind. You can state something was humorous, or comical but there is nothing that is mirthful. You cannot get on stage and say that you are going to do mirth tonight. You can get on stage and say that you are going to do comedy, sing or act, but you will not get on stage and say that you are going to perform mirth.

The laughter that comes with mirth is the most healing of all of the laughs. If you want to experience relief, try to experience the unbridled joy of mirth.


Effective comedy can cause mirth in another person. The math in rating comedy can determine how much mirth comedy will create.


A Mirthagen is anything that causes Mirth.


Mirth is the sacred cow of Hollywood. They seem to be afraid of it. It is very seldom used. It could be because they do not understand it. Pee Wee’s Playhouse was an example of mirth. Pee Wee would vacillate between comedy and mirth. Whenever Pee Wee didn’t feel safe or felt his visitors were emotionally unsafe, he would attack them with comedy. When he felt safe, Pee Wee celebrated the joy of living. This balance that Pee Wee found between comedy and mirth is what attracted everyone to him.

Mirth includes: joy, pleasure, festivity, happiness, delight, gladness, or gaiety shown by or accompanied with laughter, merry making, joyous entertainment, or sport.


Mirth is a very dangerous state of mind to be in while one is trying to figure out a diagnosis. Gene Wilder took Gilda Radner/Roseannadanna from saturday night live to the doctor, and tried to have her diagnosed. (5 different doctors) Gene Wilder said when the doctor would walk in and see she who they knew as Roseanna Roseannadanna they would laugh. He Said by the time cancer was found it was so advanced it was too late. You do not want to use mirth, comedy, or humor when being diagnosed for a disease. This could cause the doctor to be unable to focus and think about the situation at hand. Mirth, humor, or comedy can numb the pain and it will also numb the brain. Wit can sharpen the brain.




Muse is news with emotion. Many newscasters give you facts with no emotion. Walter Cronkite is an example. There are newscasters that will give you more emotions with less data. Like Glenn Beck, Fox News and  Rush Limbaugh.


An example of people that give you news with emotion are: Paul Harvey, John Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. Paul Harvey would include emotions with an almost indistinguishable tone in his voice that he wanted to get across in the story. Paul Harvey would use words that described the emotion. Instead of using “injured” he would say “hurting” with an inflection that would imply pain. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert will use facial expressions, bite their hands, or beat their heads on the desk in frustration while stating the facts.


If you use 10% wit 90% muse you will be giving them the facts with emotion which is much more effective than either alone.




Wit is wisdom with a twist. Example, drink is the curse of working class. Twist; work is the curse of the drinking class. Wit presents a puzzle or a conundrum that needs to be solved by a quick mind.


The riddle and the pun are different branches of wit, and they both have their own rules.


A pun doesn't have to draw a laugh or a groan. The primary role of the pun is to serve as an intellectual connection that lets us pack more meaning into fewer words. What makes puns effective is that they flow from meaning to unexpected meaning.


A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning put forth as a puzzle to be solved. The two types of riddles are: enigmas and conundra. Enigmas are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity and careful thinking for their solution. Conundra are questions relying for their effects on punning in either the question or the answer.