Laughing with You or at You?

Laughing is a serious matter, you can’t do it with just anyone.
Irene Schiff

The first Sunday in May marks World Laughter Day established in 1998. One would think that if they even established an international day, laughter is really an important act. Laughing is good for you and connects the physical and psychological levels. Even without going into medical explanations, it is easily guessed by everyone how much it can improve the physical state, heart, muscles, blood pressure ... and it keeps the mind exercised, fights melancholy and depression, helps to de-dramatize situations, to understand in multifaceted vision what surrounds us. It is gymnastics for the mind that makes us more flexible, intuitive. But there are various ways: laughter, joking, humour, satire, up to and including sarcasm and sadism. In fact, we can laugh at a deliberately comic scene, a double entendre, a harmless joke, self-criticism, but we can also laugh to hurt. When we laugh, we need to be sure that there is no malice in our behaviour and that the other person clearly and immediately understands our intentions. There is a big difference between comedy, humour, and sarcasm. Comedy is spontaneous, the good-natured sense is clear to everyone (or almost everyone). Humour requires richer thought, reflection. Sarcasm, on the other hand, is meant to hurt. The person who laughs to hurt wants to feel superior to others but has no tools to be so and therefore has no choice but to crush others. Appropriately, we do not go into the subject of bullying, which should be dealt with much longer and more deeply. We are talking about merry or maybe mirthless laughter but always within certain boundaries. Important people have explored this topic: Socrate, Pirendello, Freud, only to name a few. Important directors and writers have treated the humour genre with intelligence and elegance: this also makes us realize ... the seriousness of laughing and making people laugh. But what if we are the target of the joke or sarcasm? Being in jest, laughing at ourselves with others unites us. We make it clear that we understand the good-natured spirit of the joke and are having fun as well. On the other hand, if there is malice behind the joke, we can and should demand self-respect: we can say to that person that there are other ways to demonstrate their supposed superiority and then ignore it.



1) For a trivial reason, you just had a fight with your partner

a) you wait until your partner apologizes

b) you say you’re sorry

c) no-one says they’re sorry


2) One of your colleagues confided in you a funny blunder

a) you are astonished that they are telling you in the first place

b) you laugh good-heartedly

c) you are sorry for your colleague


3) Now you are the one who made a faux pas

a) you smile

b) you think: ‘it can happen to anyone’

c) you leave the room


4) The most talented of your old schoolmates has been fired several times

a) no-one understands this

b) so they learn to always get the best grades

c) you remain indifferent


5) Some people are teasing you in a hurtful way

a) you tease them as well

b) you react with indifference

c) you suffer in silence


6) What is your favourite literary genre

a) non-fiction

b) detective stories

c) adventure


7) At a formal event, you make a tear in your outfit and your underwear shows

a) you try to cover it with what you have on hand

b) you laugh about it

c) you leave the event


8) It is your birthday

a) you organized a while ago an evening in good company

b) you offer a drink, at the last moment

c) you don’t organize anything 

9) The craft of clowning

a) what a chore to have to make people laugh

b) what a beautiful thing to make people laugh

c) why on earth did they choose that line of work


10) You know an embarrassing fact about a friend

a) you tell everyone about it

b) you tell only one person

c) you don’t tell anyone


11) Colleagues gossip about a person you don’t know

a) you look like you are amused

b) you change the subject

c) you reprimand them


12) They pair you up with an inexperienced colleague

a) you try to teach them the job

b) you worry because you have to work twice as much

c) they’ll have to manage


13) You offer a gift

a) you expect a gift in return

b) you are pleased to make someone happy

c) how hard it is to give a gift


14) You have to give back a small amount of money

a) you wait until they ask you

b) you pretend to forget about it

c) you immediately pay the money back


15) Someone has to give you back a small amount of money

a) you remind the person once in a while

b) you pretend to forget about it

c) you insist that it be returned to you



Question A B C

1) 1 3 2

2) 2 1 3

3) 3 2 1

4) 3 1 2

5) 1 3 2

6) 2 1 3

7) 2 3 1

8) 3 2 1

9) 1 3 2

10) 1 2 3

11) 2 3 1

12) 3 2 1

13) 1 3 2

14) 1 2 3

15) 3 12 1





"...Because life is beautiful and I want to live it more and more... are words from a song from several years ago but we take from it to define your character. You like to joke and sometimes even tease other people; maybe you really are a hilarious person or maybe you are trying to lighten the burdens you carry inside. However, you must be careful because not everyone may fully understand your intentions and may be hurt.



You believe that a laugh is a moment of serenity, a small, sometimes unexpected joy that relieves us of the stresses and tensions of the day. You feel it is good to be able to give and to receive these moments because you are convinced that laughing with others and laughing at ourselves does not take anything away from a person’s earnestness. On the contrary, it adds to it.



Maybe you have been hurt by heavy-handed jokes. Maybe when you complained, you were told, ‘But you’re so sensitive, I was only joking!’ You can joke in many ways but never by offending. Try to ignore these people, not to fall for their provocations, to preserve your self-esteem. If, on the other hand, you are the one who provokes... the world is full of hostile people, why be like them?


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