My cousin Katelyn and I dropped behind the counter as our bursting laughter weakened our cores and heightened our need to get out of sight. Silent chortles made us hug our stomachs and gasp for available air as we rolled around on the cold, stone floor.
I peeked around the side of the breakfast bar to see my mother and aunt staring back at us with annoyed expressions on their faces. Their eyes asked, “How old are you?”
This did nothing to ease the flow of giggles bubbling up from deep in my throat.
“It’s funny because it’s not funny,” were the stupidly stated words that caused this break of vicious laughter — that and a sugar high from s’mores. My parents, aunt and uncle were watching a movie fit for an earlier generation — their generation. A movie where lame ‘80s references were abundant and dorky slapstick humor sequences went on for far too long.
We had stood watching snippets of the movie from the kitchen, eating
our s’mores from behind the counter, and were truly dumbfounded with each ring of laughter issuing from the parents in the living room.
Katelyn looked at me and we communicated, mouths full of gooey chocolate and marshmallow, through eye-language. How are they laughing at this? She stared at me incredulously. I rolled my eyes in enthusiastic agreement: I know, right?
It wasn’t until the movie’s attempt at a comical fight scene that the adult’s humor became genuinely comical in and of itself. Another round of guffaws from the living room and Katelyn and I couldn’t kill what was rising from within us — laughter at our parent’s laughter. It’s funny because it’s not funny.
Why did it please them to watch that movie, packed with its over-the top characters and attempts at contemporary humor? They considered this funny, and we did not. I never thought of the separation of humor, the things that made some people laugh and others snort in mockery, the factors that came into play and twisted what tickled our funny bones.
Humor seems a universal thing, “funny” a level adjective. But through the observation of my parents and their movie, I found the world of laughter less stable than I once thought. Like all things, humor is affected by how we grow up, our gender, our age and, ultimately, who we are as a person. What a person laughs at can define him or her almost as well as what movies they go to or the songs they listen to.
Some laugh at everything; some laugh at nothing. One can draw conclusions about these people’s personalities from these observations as well as if they talked to them face-to face.
Some people show ignorance by laughing at things that should be treated with respect or gravity, and some show austerity by not laughing in any situation.
What someone laughs at is as unique as their wardrobe or self-portrait. In this way, we all have alright to laugh at whatever we want to laugh at. It defines who we are as individuals, and shapes the ways in which we find happiness. In that case, our laughter at my parent’s laughter was both justified and wrong. The movie they were watching was quite funny. Hilarious, even — at least to them. And we could laugh at that.
By Abbie Powers