Sigmund Freud was one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth
His basic idea was that we all have sexual and aggressive thoughts,
but that society does not allow us to express these ideas openly.
As a result, they become repressed deep into our unconscious and
only emerge via the odd slip of the tongue (the ‘Freudian
slip’), in dreams and certain forms of psychotherapy.
But Freud was also fascinated by jokes and humour. He believed that
they represented another way in which people could release their
pent-up thoughts in a socially acceptable way. Thoughts about death,
sex, marriage, authority figures, certain bodily functions –
anything, in fact, that it is socially unacceptable to say with
a straight face.
So, to Freud, humour provides a kind of relief – a way of
coping with the problems in our lives, or issues that we are embarrassed
or reluctant to confront.
Although many of the jokes submitted to LaughLab fit with Freud’s
ideas, they didn’t make it through our vetting procedure because
they weren’t suitable for family viewing.
However, here are some examples that fit the theory and did get
the green light.
A woman told her friend: “For eighteen years my husband and
I were the happiest people in the world! Then we met.”
A newly ordained priest is nervous about hearing confessions and
asks an older priest to observe one of his sessions to give him
some tips. After a few minutes of listening, the old priest suggests
that they have a word. “I’ve got a few suggestions,”
he says. “Try folding your arms over your chest and rub your
chin with one hand.” The new priest tries this. “Very
good,” says his senior. “Now try saying things like
'I see', 'I understand' and 'Yes, go on.'” The younger priest
practises these sayings, too. “Well done,” says the
older priest. “Don't you think that's better than slapping
your knee and saying: “No way! What happened next?”
The winning joke
In second place
Humour across the globe
It's all about timing
The brain's funnybone
Images and soundclips