Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Logic of Humor - Coincidences

A young man was called up for a medical exam by his draft board. 
When he was examined by the doctor, he pretended he couldn't see. 

"Please read that chart," said the doctor. 

"What chart?" asked the young man. 

"The one on the wall," replied the doctor.

"What wall?" asked the young man. 

The doctor then classified him as 4-F and the young man left. 

That evening, the young man decided to celebrate and went to the movies. 

When the film ended, to his amazement, the doctor was sitting right next to him. 

Thinking quickly, the young man asked the doctor, 

"Is this the line for the bus to Hoboken?" 

Coincidental humor involves our sense of order in the universe and the way we perceive the concept "fate."  Primarily based on embarrassment: circumstances putting us, by chance, in an awkward situation. 

Coincidences strike us as funny or "uncanny" or even humorously strange. The draft joke above involves embarrassment and an attempt to escape from it. From a psychoanalytic perspective, we find an id attempting to avoid the strictures of the superego. Underlying this is a notion that the universe is just and that wrongdoers usually get caught. 

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