HUMOR AS WE AGE

As the years go by has your sense of humor changed? Has your receptivity to comedy gone up or down? Are you getting the same belly laughs that brought tears to your eyes, as in years gone by? When my kids were in high school they brought me a succession of never-ending jokes. Now that they’ve moved out, I don’t get much flow of humorous material. 

My friend Bob owned a trucking company. It seemed that his drivers were an endless source of funny if filthy stories. But Bob has retired and moved to Florida. I’m left here wondering where all the “yucks” have gone.

It’s not a crisis today, so I’m not going to call 911. Nevertheless, as time goes by and other joys are lost, humor should be one of the nonfattening, legal pleasures we can hang on to. 

My sense of humor or things that makes me laugh has not changed over the years. 

Or has it?

Thinking about it, I really have no lack of material because my email box is crammed with comedy, U-tube clips of SNL and mean spirited political jibes. These jokes are all creative and well thought out but they don’t satisfy like when Bob and my kids delivered their punch lines.

A final symptom of my humor decline comes from The New Yorker Magazine. It still entertains, but lately, I find that I’m reading the stories rather than just jump from cartoon to cartoon. 

According to my diagnosis, the culprit behind this sad decline is that humor demands the frustration, dashed hopes, and dreams of younger days. At my mellow age, much of the frustration and dreams have passed and I’m no longer carrying a crushing burden of angst. There’s hardly any need to relieve tensions. With fewer problems, I’ve become humorless and don’t require jokes for relief. 

If this diagnosis is correct, the solution is immediately at hand:

Assume weighty, new, bone-crushing responsibilities and insurmountable obligations. As I fret and sweat in my newfound misery, jokes will resume their satisfying role as they did in earlier days. 

If this seems a tad sardonic, I offer a more scholarly and upbeat approach from Psychology Today regarding modern humor:

“There are basic cognitive mechanisms to understanding what’s going on in a (contemporary) joke. Older adults, because they may have deficits in some of those cognitive areas, may have a harder time understanding what a joke is about.”

“Perhaps we become more conservative over the years because we become less flexible and less patient with absent punch lines. Maybe our brains need to be jolted with humor that doesn’t take us where we expect… even if that destination is nowhere at all.

“Countless studies have already found that laughing frequently improves heart health, immune system response, and even mental outlook. Perhaps absurd humor might be the best workout for the brain we can get. At worst, it gives us something to think about. 

And now, my favorite joke: “What has eight legs and an eye? Two chairs and half a cow’s head.”

You’re welcome.”     

Categories: Humor

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