Have you ever told a hilarious joke, only to receive crickets – or worse, horrified faces – as a response? Do you think jokes about death, terror, and suffering are funny?
A recent study by the Medical University of Vienna defined dark humor as “a kind of humor that treats sinister subjects like death, disease, deformity, handicap or warfare with bitter amusement and presents such tragic, distressing or morbid topics in humorous terms…used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox and cruelty of the modern world.”
Does this sound like what your comedic dreams are made of?
Do you ever wonder if your dark sense of humor means you’re some sort of a monster?
Don’t worry. It doesn’t.
Surprisingly, a twisted sense of humor indicates the exact opposite of a twisted personality.
Here are three scientifically verified qualities that dark humored people enjoy:
-In the study referenced above, people who displayed a twisted sense of humor scored much higher on intelligence tests than those who did not. This applied to both verbal and nonverbal intelligence scores. Because of the twists in logic it often requires, dark humor can be more difficult to understand. It is often more deeply layered, or more nuanced and complex than its lighthearted counterpart. A person who can not only understand dark comedy, but can do so thoroughly enough to appreciate it, likely has a highly active mind. The capacity to turn tragedy into absurdist comedy also speaks to a well-developed sense of perspective and global awareness.
2. Emotional Stability
-A dark sense of humor is sometimes thought to indicate a dangerous or unstable mind. In fact, it means quite the opposite. This study found that participants who enjoyed twisted jokes were actually more emotionally stable than their horrified counterparts. One possible explanation for this is that dark humor, unlike most other forms of humor, is often used as a coping skill. While light humor can distract us from our problems, dark humor can actually help us to work through them. When we tell a dark joke, we turn to comedy to make our misfortune more manageable. Our troubles then start to feel like a natural part in a cruel world, rather than a sick twist in an otherwise pleasant one.
3. Low Aggression
– Would you hesitate to let a dark-humored person babysit your children – or even walk your dog? According to this research, you shouldn’t. The Medical University of Vienna’s experiment demonstrated that people who enjoy twisted humor are less inclined to aggression than the general population. A person who is able to find humor even in the darkest of situations is less likely to succumb to darkness themselves. In the context of this study, low levels of aggression were also tied to high levels of positivity. It would seem that dark humored people have less need for aggression, because we have so many other mental and emotional tools to work with.
“Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.” Robert Bloch clearly had a well-developed sense of dark humor.
He also had the mind of a wise man, and, likely, the heart of a little boy inside of him – in addition to the one he kept on his desk. If you chuckled at that line of his, you’re likely as intelligent, stable, and ultimately harmless as he was.