I was recording a couple of interviews for NPR the other day, one on the hand and evolution, the other on mysterianism, and they asked me to do a short piece on an “outrageous idea”. I chose to speak about my opposition to laughter: I propose that it be banned. It is like the shrieking of children, an indecorous and annoying habit best avoided. All that sniggering and giggling and howling–so uncivilized. I’m all in favor of humor and amusement, and I even approve of smiling, but laughing is just so much inarticulate noise. I would like to put up notices saying “No public cachinnation!” Laughter has no part in the properly humorous life. This will go out on public radio in due course and I expect to see a steep drop in incidents of laughter across the nation.

6 replies
  1. Kevin C
    Kevin C says:

    I realize the post is a month old, but: is the heart of the objection that laughter is a means to engage the emotions of another at the expense of conceptual language? Would you class it in some cases as a form of violence? If so, would you say this occurs predominantly in common discourse and popular entertainment, or that it is pervasive in well-intentioned, seriously minded conversation as well?

  2. Joe Mckay
    Joe Mckay says:

    Everybody seems to think they are funny now. Comedy is so ubiquitous on TV and in the form of witty comments on Facebook and Twitter – that everyone now feels compelled to join in.

    You can have too much of a good thing. And if I could ban one thing it would be people trying to be funny. Too many people are trying to be funny. We need a break. It would be invigorating if we went a whole year without any more comedy. The western world needs a break. It is like been force fed a diet of nothing but sweets and chocolate.

    • Colin McGinn
      Colin McGinn says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I would add that the type of humor is also far too broad–what about something a bit more nuanced and jaundiced? Banning laughter would be an excellent start. We need to become more bitter.


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