The Psychology of Humor: Some Quotes That Sum It Up

A long time ago I eagerly enrolled for an evening course on the psychology of humor. The teacher mixed theory with some stand-up comedy—unfortunately, both the info and the routines fell flat. And although I’m still always drawn to this topic, whenever I try to read about new humor research, it just bores me. What’s wrong with this picture?

Writer E. B. White once said:

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.

Well, at least I still enjoy good quotes. The following are about the psychology of humor, or the way that laughter and humor help us cope:

Mark Twain, humorist: Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.

Erma Bombeck, author and humorist: There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

Robert Frost, poet: If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.

Arnold Glasow, humorist: Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.

Erica Jong, author: Humor is one of the most serious tools we have for dealing with impossible situations.

Frank Howard Clark, screenwriter: I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, writer and speaker and “father of motivation”: It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.

Bob Newhart, comedian: Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.

Norman Cousins, political journalist and author: Laughter is inner jogging.

Henry Ward Beecher, minister and author/lecturer: A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.

Will Durst, comedian and political satirist: Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep back on the inhale.

Mahatma Gandhi, leader: If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.

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