Am I bad to laugh when people fall over?

If I were to ask you about situations where you had fallen or had an accident, ones where you were not badly hurt, how many of those incidents did you or others find funny?

I’m sure we could all think of lots of examples, I certainly can. I’m going to share one of those examples with you now:

I was about 16 or 17 and headed home after work on a stormy night with gale-force winds. I was an office junior in a legal office and on my way to the bus station I had to drop themail off at the Post Office. Rushing for my bus, coming out of the Post Office which was next to the bus station, I was swept up by a huge gust of wind from behind pushing me forward and into the path of the admittedly stationary bus. It was certainly one way to catch the bus which wasn’t going anywhere until I moved.

I sprained my ankle and was off work for 2 weeks, but you have to admit it’s a funny scenario. 

My more recent experience where I fell and broke my wrist alongside a recent post by Sadje about whether or not we find such accidents amusing and why we laugh when we do have prompted today’s post.

I think when most people fall they are more concerned with whether or not they were seen and how embarrassed they feel. Even if we don’t get hurt, we do tend to hurt our pride. If you were the person to fall, would you shout at someone laughing at your misfortune? My reflections took me back down memory lane to a time in my early 20s when, with a colleague, we saw someone trip/slip off the pavement onto the road.

It was a cold, wet winter’s evening. My colleague and I we’re standing behind a man and his young daughter at the traffic lights waiting to cross the road. The man was obviously in a hurry and as he went to step off the pavement and onto the road, his foot slipped and although he didn’t fall he did wobble a bit. I must admit we found this hilarious and we couldn’t stop laughing. 

The next thing the man spun round and started shouting at us for laughing at him. He told us to grow up and that we should know that we should not be laughing at other people’s misfortunes. He also suggested that we should not make him look foolish in front of his daughter.  I think we retorted that he was the one setting the bad example.

Were we wrong to laugh at someone slipping or was the said gentleman over sensitive? 

My feeling is probably a bit of both. We do find some accidents funny, and I wonder if its more about the extent to which we can laugh at ourselves. If we can find the funny side in misfortune then we are less likely to get upset when others laugh at us in such situations, which can sometimes appear like something from a cartoon. I like to think that we’re laughing with the people rather than laughing at them. I don’t think anyone laughed when I fell recently, but I was more concerned with how many people were around as witnesses. I don’t think I’d have been bothered if they laughed – probably laugh with them.

I chose to believe that the gentleman discussed above is one of those people who cannot take a joke and is unable to laugh at themselves.

If I can see the funny in my being picked up by the wind and dumped in front of a bus and would not be upset by others seeing the funny side of the view unfolding in front of them, then I can’t see why I shouldn’t be able to laugh when I see something funny, particularly when the said gentlemen was unhurt apart from maybe his pride.

So how about you?  What do you find funny? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. You see someone fall — and you see that outside of a bruised ego, they’re generally okay — I’m with you, it’s only natural to laugh and see the humor. I probably would’ve laughed even more at the man for his boorish behavior, he’s the one who was out of line. No one likes to fall, but it’s life, laugh and move on!!!!😎😎😎😎

  2. I personally feel now
    that laughing at someone’s fall is very very very very bad.

    But 10-20 years ago, I would just laugh.

    I remember when I was a child, I saw 2 boys hitting an old man with cycle and he fell. I find it funny. But, now I think of think it was bad.
    Because he must have got hurt.

  3. When someone is hurt then laughing at that moment doesn’t seem kind. If you see that on tv and feel like laughing, it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

  4. I would, because when I fall, which happens more often than I would like it to, I AM the first one to laugh at myself 😁

  5. Honestly Brenda I don’t think I laugh. I think my first reaction is to reach out to the person, check to see if they’re okay, show some level of concern. Now I’m pretty sure as a kid I would have laughed immediately, but getting older- even when young older (if that makes sense) I have had moments of being so embarrassed after tripping, falling, doing something silly that I just don’t want to see the funny parts knowing too well how the other person feels in that moment. Now I just worry because it’s so easy to really injure yourself unintentionally as an older person.

    • I can understand that Deb … and realising what I thought was a bad sprain turned out to be a broken bone. Don’t get me wrong, if I thought someone had hurt themselves, I would make sure they’re OK. I think that’s probably a natural reaction too. Not long before I fell, I was making my way out of the train station when a man in front of me just kind of crumpled … I think heat exhaustion. I got him down to the platform off the stairs, and left him when he was with a member of station staff.

  6. My husband laughed at me once when I tripped on our driveway. He said I looked like an eggplant rolling with my purple jacket 😊. I was soooo angry.But I had the last laugh since for the next few days I was stuck to my sofa unable to do anything and he had to run the family. 😊

  7. I had a friend who fell and I giggled, and she’s like, “Yes! Laugh at my pain!!” and got mad at me 🙂 In my defense, she like, stumbled a little and caught herself, didn’t outright fall. It just looked silly.
    If it’s an older person, I immediately feel concern. If it’s just a person taking a little spill, giggles are expected, even if that person is me 😉

  8. Sometimes that giggle can not be contained 🤭. Especially if the person is not hurt. and there are so many creative ways to slip, trip or fall. I’ve experienced a few of these slips and falls personally and I myself thought it (I) was hilarious.
    though I’ve never embarrassed a stranger by openly laughing. some people are very sensitive.

  9. Hello Brenda!👋
    It’s raining outside, right now. And the first thing I feel is to grab a cup of tea in my hand.
    Not just tea, but my smartphone also, to write a blog post.
    “To tell them” what I’m feeling, right now.
    As I am growing older I have developed ‘a better sense’, (something you can call mature), of understanding and dealing with the people.
    I avoid doing activities those might cause harm to me or anyone near me. The thought of embarrassment would be ‘secondary’.
    Some people are sensitive. It’s better you don’t play a joke to them. Little confusion arouse sometimes, otherwise it’s understood ‘how we should react on a particular incident’.
    I can surely agree that adding good ‘sense of humour’ can make living the life easier.
    It’s too hard to be hard (I have always looked for the freedom and a free mindset).
    I would like to share an incident.
    About 3 years ago, I was admitted to the City District Hospital. During the day time I saw a nurse is coming to inject an injection to roughly a 45 to 50 year old man. Physically he was strong, looked mature.
    But when the nurse tried to do her job ‘he started crying like a baby’.😃
    Now you might want to control your laugh as per your understanding.
    But the way ‘this man turned completely into a baby’, the actual baby which belonged to the family of this man ‘started laughing madly’.🤣🤣
    The whole hospital started laughing. And no one was able to control their laugh, including myself.

  10. And interesting question, Brenda. What I noticed in your account about the man is that you said he was clearly in a hurry. So he was giving off vibes (frustrated, impatient?) before he wobbled. Perhaps it was the overall sense that made you all laugh.

    As for your bus incident – that is funny!

  11. I think I laugh out of embarrassment for myself or the other person. A few times, I’ve thought a falling down drunk (not myself) was pretty funny. Glad to see your post, Brenda!

  12. You really have to laugh, otherwise you are going to cry. The other day I made a fool of myself. Playing with the puppy, tripped and fell face first to the floor. My right knee took the brunt. Grabbed my knee rolled over laughing. The puppy & her bigger sister ran to me, both licking my face (make sure I was ok). The wife said “there are places for people like you.”

    • Thanks for the unintentional laugh…I was reading your comment too fast, and thought the puppy and YOUR sister were both licking your face….until I went back to reread a little more carefully. Hope your knee is better!

  13. When I was much younger, I would have laughed, but now? No. I’m more inclined to go over and check if the person is ok and help them up, Brenda. However, if they’re laughing about it, I’d probably smile but still offer to help them up. I wouldn’t laugh, though.

      • I should have added that back in December 2001, I slipped on my way to work. Brenda. I broke my upper right arm in three places. It was the worse pain that I’ve ever experienced. That was the reasoning behind my answer. I think if anyone has had a nasty accident that caused lots of pain it’s going to put it all in a different perceptive.

      • Ouch. That does sound really painful. I’m finding my wrist bad enough. I hope you’ve not suffered any long term problems

      • Thats good to hear … that you can keep writing. It must have been a really bad accident to break your arm so badly

  14. The funniest ‘spill’ I ever saw was my own…..I was working in a kitchen, and had a pitcher of apple juice in my hand. As I rounded the corner, I hit a slick spot on the floor and my feet went out from under me. I landed on a well-cushioned bottom, kept a firm hold on the pitcher, but the juice inside it seemed like it jumped out of the pitcher as a unit and dropped on my head. I erupted into belly laughs so hard I was crying. My poor boss had watched it happen, was trying not to join me in laughing until she found out if I was hurt or not. I was laughing too hard to give her an answer.

    As a rule, I’ll laugh at myself, but not at others unless I’m joining them in laughter (once I know they are ok)

  15. someone else falling is always good for my morale! Not the same when i fall though

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