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The Bright Side of Dark Humor

Last year I did a photo shoot with a friend which yielded many attractive shots. Knowing my sense of humor, he pointed out this particularly awful one and we had a good laugh. I developed this meme less as a way to make fun of Florida, but more as a way to find humor in the horror that comes with aging.

Recently, I was watching one of my fellow comedians deliver a particularly disturbing set of jokes. There was a little laughter, but mostly the audience gasped and groaned while shifting in their seats uncomfortably. I couldn't help but wonder -- was he trying to shock or is he indeed a cruel psychopath? Is his brand of dark humor a harbinger for future acts of violence? He seems like such a nice guy.

According to a recent Readers Digest article, "If You Laugh at These Dark Jokes, You’re Probably a Genius," the appreciation for dark humor is a sign of a higher IQ. Additionally, studies have shown that people who appreciate off-color jokes have lower aggression, and resist negative feelings more effectively than people who turn up their noses at them.

A Time and Place for Everything

“I have to leave early tonight, I have a flight to California. I can’t get a direct flight — they said I have to stop at the Empire State Building first.”

An audience member's reaction to Gilbert Gottfried's 9/11 joke he told at a Friars Club Roast of Hugh Hefner mere weeks after the attack kicked off the popular notion of jokes being delivered 'too soon!' A cancer joke may be funny to others dealing with the disease but not to the joke's subject.

Why wouldn't the cannibal eat the clown? He tasted funny.

Unless you are a #Joker type comedian with serious mental health issues (a topic NOT meant for this blogger!) perhaps dark, also known as gallows or black humor, can serve as a useful strategy for dealing with pain, misfortune and tragedy. However, keep in mind that timing and audience are the keys Smarty Pants!

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