Admit it: The first time you heard that mothers henceforth should be referred to as “birthing people” so that men identifying as women should not feel excluded, you laughed out loud. That may not have been a coincidence. A new book called Why Funny Is Funny presents a new theory of the psychological mechanism of humor, and it may explain why radical leftism makes you laugh.
Chris Land’s work is so rare as an academic book on the psychology of humor. It also contains practical advice on being funnier, but its primary goal is to identify the essence of humor. Land’s answer is Clash Theory. To be funny, two factors must be present: (1) something nonsensical, and (2) something sensible that tries to occupy the same cognitive space as the nonsense. This mental clash between sense and nonsense is the kernel of humor.
Here is an example: “Tommy is a bad basketball player, but at least he is not a good football player either.” No one would likely say anything like that. It makes no sense. However, the sentence is grammatically valid and sounds very close to a sensible comparison. Thus, there is a clash between sense and nonsense that people recognize as funny. We might call such a construction pseudo-sensical.
Although Land’s book is not political, surprisingly, his clash theory may explain why everyone finds woke ideology so funny. Radical leftism is by its own definition nonsense because, in 2020, the Smithsonian Institute published a pamphlet based on Critical Theory that identified logic as a form of white supremacy. Radical leftists similarly reject reality as a mere narrative by the ruling power structure to oppress minorities. Therefore, biological sex and gender do not exist. They are social constructs.
Many highly intelligent academics have spent thousands of hours creating pseudo-sensical narratives out of pure nonsense. This process is almost indistinguishable from how comedians construct good jokes. That’s why people’s first instinct upon hearing their ideas is to laugh.
No one illustrates this better than the legendary Monty Python, the British comedian who made millions of people laugh in the 1970s with their hyper-absurdity. Their 1979 movie Life of Brian predicted wokeism 40 years before it entered mainstream culture.
In one of the most beloved and well-known scenes from the movie, the People’s Liberation Front of Judea discusses the inalienable rights of man. One of the members of the group, Stan, keeps gender-correcting the other. At some point, one is annoyed and asks: “Why are you always on about women, Stan?” He replies: “I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta. It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies. It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” The leader, Reg, then replies, “But you can’t have babies!” Stan retorts: “Don’t you oppress me!”
No doubt many who watched and enjoyed Life of Brian were left-leaning. And the above scene made entire audiences of liberals laugh. However, Monty Python’s carefully constructed joke that maximizes absurdity is almost verbatim radical gender theory. While creating one of the most pseudo-sensical scenes in film history, Monty Python accidentally pre-invented Fourth Wave feminism.
While a Monty Python sketch can be funny to watch, living in it can be a nightmare. Fortunately, there is a secret weapon against it: laughter. The way to ruin a good joke is to explain it. According to Land, the reason is that, by conceptualizing it, the sense and the nonsense no longer clash because they cannot occupy the same mental space.
However, radical leftists are not trying to tell a good joke; they are trying to bamboozle you into accepting nonsense as if it makes sense. Therefore, an effective way to ruin the gaslighting attempt is to laugh. That way you expose the pseudo-sensical for the nonsense that it is.
Indeed, laughter is the way that the people ruin the con in Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” When a small boy calls out that the emperor is naked, all the people in town can laugh, because they understand that they are being fed nonsense. However, don’t forget: If you remain silent and take the radical left’s pseudo-reality seriously, the joke is on you.
~ Read more from Caroline Adana.
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