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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