Before the 1800’s humor was seen in a negative light by society. Laughing was seen as unnatural and physiologically harmful. Some even went as far as to compare laughter to masturbation…. Which is really weird. The humor which was seen as a negative light by society is also known as Dark Humor, which in some cases can mislead others into believing that making light of a bad situation can brighten up the mood. This is true but it depends on the situation. This belief was so strong that it even leaked into Christianity.
Proverbs 26:18–19: ‘A man who deceives another and then says, ‘It was only a joke’, is like a madman shooting at random his deadly darts and arrows’.
Thomas Hobbes – Superiority Theory
The essence of laughter is enjoying feeling superior to someone. Basically means that you’d laugh at someone you’d feel as though you are superior to. You wouldn’t laugh at someone who you feel is superior to you, which in my opinion adds a level of complexity to laughter that simply doesn’t exist. A certain level of mental gymnastics was definitely needed to create such a ridiculous theory.
Relief Theory & Incongruity Theory
The relief theory essentially states that laughter is the release of too much pent up energy in the body. Incongruity Theory says that humor comes as a result of an unexpected surprise in people’s daily lives and expectations.