Seeking an Authentic Response

I enjoy it when I make a joke and people laugh at it.  However I would not want them to laugh out of fear; if, for example, they are afraid they would get punished if they didn’t laugh at my jokes.  What if they were not afraid of punishment but were seeking a reward — for example, they wanted me to give them something?  I still wouldn’t like it.  No, what I want is for people to laugh at my jokes because they actually think they are funny.  It is validating.  It makes me feel good.

However if I learn the sorts of things that make people laugh and say them because I know people will laugh, even if I don’t think they’re funny, I don’t like that either.  Because in that case the person being motivated by fear, or the hope of a bribe or treat, is me.  For me to be happy at making jokes and being appreciated I have to know that neither me nor my audience is motivated by fear or the hope of a treat.

It requires a high level of trust between me and my audience.  They have to trust me not to say things I don’t genuinely feel are funny and I have to trust them not to laugh at things they don’t actually think are funny.  I have to make sure I am not imitating someone else, including myself five weeks ago.  They have to be careful they are actually laughing because they find what I say funny, and not out of nervousness, or the desire to be the sort of person who would find that sort of thing funny.   But if pull it off, if we are there for each other the result is a moment of genuine intimacy.


15 thoughts on “Seeking an Authentic Response

  1. 🙏…Wazzup ELK? How’s your SiMBa (Spirit, Mind & Body) today?

    Dude! Did I just have the privilege of hearing someone talk about the “fear of punishment” & the “seeking of reward”? Ohhh…YES! Thank You Sir😎

    …in my book I talked about the difference between being “nice” (giving out of a fear of punishment or the seeking of reward) and ‘Natural Giving’/being KIND (where we give to another member of Team-Humanity purely out of a place of Contributing to their Well-being)

    If I hear what you’re saying, you Thrive on Comedy as a vehicle for Natural Giving and believe that it’s where the true Synergy/Magic lives! Is that accurate for you or were you wanting to be heard in a different way? ~Tony ‘The Empathy Guy’ Scruggs⚾

    • I mean it’s fine with me if you put that interpretation on it, but I did not say “that’s where the true” lives — just that I like it and it is one way to do it. It’s important to me not to restrict people and their options.

      • 🙏…thanks for the clarity ELK😎

        It’s also very important to me “not to restrict people and their options”

        Having been on both sides of Privilege (Academically/Athletically and then ethnically) and having an LGBT Father I deeply appreciate your take on that.

        I’m sensing that you would’ve really enjoyed some of the conversations we had with Gandhi’s Grandson in India about nonviolence, Compassion & Empathy during our 3 week visit with him 😉 Have a Grateful E!

  2. If people around you think of you as more important than them, they might laugh just to brown nose. Hoping for a reward. Do you want those guy around as an audience anyway? – – If people laugh because they are afraid of punishment…. (a thump to their head or losing their job) ….they aren’t very productive to your work either and is that the audience you are writing to? Do you need a critic?
    When I watched Big Bang and I snorted out loud, it’s because it was damned funny, and it was usually because the statement was either outrageous or too true. The Santa book had funny laugh out loud stuff. It was also kinda’ deep for my brain. Some of my thoughts in certain parts were….. what in the hell is he talking about? And then I’d smile at the page. I like all your writing and I’m not sucking up. I don’t need a thing.
    Does this mean we’ve been intimate? I’m going to confession tomorrow.

  3. I think sincerity is an underrated quality. Not that it’s necessarily what you’re referring to in your own example of what you look for / want to avoid in an interaction but parts of what you say sound very familiar to me in respect to sincerity. I’m particularly sensitive to what I consider glibness.

  4. Gina says:

    Validation is worth living for! Laughing out of fear of punishment as in a circle of people is a return remark would be some what of a put down ( not you, Eric, just in general). I might redesign laughing out of fear of punishment into a form of comfort – that all though a laugh may be considered but not felt, it is on no relflectiom to you, but the frame of mind of the one hearing it may not think its funny at all so it would be a laugh given as “it’s not you its me” and meant sincerely – because I know if I hear it again T another time I would be cracking up. – there is one exception which is from being naive. In the 60’s my grandmother would laugh and laugh and then stop laughing and reply, ” I don’t get it.” And she would be telling the truth. This is the fear of feeling left out. But back to feeling validated, recognized, and accepted by a wide general audience. If this does not happen it is a funny lonely world with a painted on smile. The only one who sees it is the mirror.

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