We often think of the Puritans in New England or the mullahs in Persia as sober-minded kill-joys. People who cannot be amused and who would not be happy if their life depended upon it. Perhaps this is so, but I can’t help feeling that there must be a quintessential Puritan or Persian joke that cracks ’em up regularly. We might never have told it but it exists nevertheless.
How about more primitive groups ( Though there will be a little discussion later amongst the cynical about the Persians and primitive behaviour…)? Do the Hottentot laugh it up? The Orinoco Indians? The Inuit? You bet they do. I’ve seen pictures of them yukking it up over songs, dance, and theatre. The humour might be local and pointed, but it’s there all right.
Are there humourless professions? You’d think the funerary ones would be sober, and they are… mostly whilst working…but I’ve seen ’em off duty and they laugh as well as they weep. My own previous professions had their own forms of humour – in one case involving blood and pain and in the other troublesome customer relations. Occasionally they would cross jurisdictions. It will likely be the same with welders, court process servers and people who stuff sausages. And you don’t want to know what they stuff in there…
I think that any group of people – a nation, a society, a club, or a family – must of necessity have some comedy or humour in their makeup. If they don’t they would go mad – perhaps this explains the ones that have done so in the past. As soon as the fun evaporated, so did they.