Some Readers Wouldn’t Know Humor if It Slapped Them in the Face (Writers Humor)

There may be a good reason why your reader doesn’t laugh.

Man holding in front of a bunch of articles holding his face after being slapped
© igor kell and Carlos Castilla via

Humor Me, Please

Perhaps I need to press the pause button before I jump to conclusions about people who either (a) don’t ‘get’; (b) can’t appreciate; or (c) who are haughtily harrumphing what I think is great comedy.

I was called to task on my prejudice not long ago when I stumbled upon another author talking about humor— more specifically — some people’s lack of it.

The author’s name is Scott Adams and he’s been drawing a daily syndicated cartoon series that is translated into 25 languages — appearing in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries around the world. The cartoon column is called Dilbert. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

The points he made caused me to think that I may need to adjust my perspective.

Here’s what Scott said that gave me pause:

“One of the most mind-boggling discoveries I made while becoming a professional humorist is that a large segment of the general public has no sense of humor. I mean that literally, in the same way that some people can’t tell the difference between good wine and bad, and some people are tone deaf. Humor appreciation is like every other human capacity. Some have it, some don’t. …

It is estimated that about a third of the public don’t possess the capacity to even recognize humor when they see it. They often pretend they do, for social reasons. …

We all have different skills and different capacities for enjoying different things. So let us not feel superior for having one type of appreciation that others do not. None of us have the full stack.”

Close up of cow chewing on grass
© yingyang0 via

Hmm. It looks like I will chew on that one for a while.

What To Do?

As a new writer here on Medium, perhaps I shouldn’t go any further until I send an open letter apologizing to the faceless folks I already imagined reading my work and condescendingly snorting from behind their half-readers.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to write the sober sophists among us off as being stuck up. The problem is at my end. I need to up my game and reconsider my audience.

I suppose I should start inserting rumble strips at various intervals throughout my writing to signal when I’m speaking in jest—similar to when manufacturers include tags on blow dryers to clarify: “Not to be used while bathing.”

A Genetic Mishap

Perhaps, many readers are exactly as Mr. Adams described them — unable to recognize parody. It’s not their fault. They can’t help it if they were born without a humor gene.

But then again, it’s more likely that I shouldn’t be expecting everyone in public forums to be my reference group for humor appreciation.

Either way, my heart will go on.

The Cutting Floor

I thought I’d be clever and end this by inserting a clip of Celine Dion singing, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ — but then it occurred to me it was the theme song for the movie Titanic.

Um …. yeah …. never mind.




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Night Writer

Night Writer

Invert. Always Invert. Flip problems upside down & address them backward. Avoiding stupidity IS better than seeking brilliance.

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