Re: laughter

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Sun, 3 Mar 1996 10:36:12 -0500

Barbara Watson: According to the article "Laughs are Rhythmic Bursts of
Social Glue" by Natalie Angier in the N.Y. TIMES (2/27), Dr. Robert R.
Provine, professor of neurobiology and psychology at the University of
Maryland Baltimore County, "An anthropologist of our amusement," finds
"wide variations based on sex in the ratio of speaker-to-listener
laughter. A man talking to a male listener laughs only slightly more
than his companion will in response. If a woman is talking to a woman,
she laughs considerably more than does her audience. By contrast a male
speaker with a female hanging on his words laughs 7% less often than does
his appreciative hearer. And the biggest discrepancy of all is found
when a woman speaks to a man, in which case she laughs l27% more than her
male associate."
Dr. Provine doesn't attempt to analyze these variations.
However, the article ends on a political note: "Despots historically have
feared the power of laughter; comedians during the Nazi era in Germany,
for example, were kept on the Gestapo's shortest leash." Dr. Provine
adds: "Fashions on laughter change, but one thing that stays the same is,
you can't laugh at people in power. The sanction holds for the personal
as well as the political. Laugh at your boss, and you may be the
recipient of that practical joke known as the little pink slip." Aside
from your boss, the moral seems to be, laugh at Buchanan, Gingrich et
al. Ruby Rohrlich

On Thu, 29 Feb 1996, Barbara Watson wrote:

> February 29, 1996
> What an interesting topic. I like to hear from people who teach course on
> this topic (laughter, -humor-). What about feminist, cross-cultural studies
> on the subject? I am familiar with Rowe's recent "The Unruly Woman" but
> would like to learn more.barbara watson
> Barbara Watson
> Department of Women's Studies
> San Diego State University
> San Diego, CA 92182