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Freudian funnies


Sigmund Freud was one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century.

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?”


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Introduction

The winning joke

In second place

Humour across the globe

It's all about timing

The brain's funnybone

Freudian funnies

Superiority theory

Incongruity theory

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