In defense of sarcasm

I wonder why does sarcasm get such a bad rap?  I have heard it said that sarcasm is anger disguised as humor but there an element of it being anger eased by humor.  If something is annoying it sometimes take the edge off of it to make a remark that cuts through to the quick of it.   Some say that sarcasm isn’t humor at all, nor is being sardonic, all considered sneering, contemptuous, bitter, cruel.  It seems as though there may be some level of wit in sarcasm, that comes from being able to see into some deep inner level of a thing.  It is a humor that does not lie on the surface of humanity but digs in deeply and finds itself laughing at our human-ness.   When we mock a thing, deride it, we are examining it, tearing it open and trying to understand it.  You want to know what its meaning is, why is it like this, and why do you ask stupid questions at a time like this, it is funny.

It is odd because it would seem that some people are not able to take any form of mockery and others perhaps can take it and enjoy it at certain levels.  I am not sure it is all bad.  I am thinking of how mocking others, poking fun at their human fallibility  is not necessarily a direct attack on a person or persons.  It may seem to be a direct attack but perhaps it is not.  Perhaps it is in fact a way of looking at things from a different perspective that is why it is cutting.  It opens it up and leaves parts exposed and raw and it can hurt, but it is deep, and it has meaning.  It is quite the opposite of the silly and meaningless antics of say the Three Stooges.  How is it funny to squeeze someone’s nose and whack them in the back of the head?  That kind of humor is very base at least to me.

One defintion says that sarcasm is intended to wound but also that it is ironic.  Irony is also entrenched with opposition.  The sarcasm is cruel irony, being sardonic is derisive irony.  It is all different ways of standing on the opposite side of something and in that way we may find some new gem, some new idea, some new meaning.  I find that the Dumb and Dumber kind of humor is not funny at all.   But do I go around saying that people acting stupid and then other people getting a good laugh at their stupid antics is somehow not funny?  No.  I acknowledge that people may in fact find this to be humorous even though I truly do not.  So why does sarcasm get the hit for not being funny when really it is often quite funny indeed?  If you are not a cruel person but your remarks, meant to be a funny and ironic look at our human selves are you now cruel?   Okay so your Dumb and Dumber is not funny it is downright moronic.  And frankly you are a moron for thinking it is funny, just as I am a big fat meany head for thinking the witticism of sarcasm is quite funny indeed.  Who is right?  And why is that sarcasm takes a hit?

It strikes me that Americans are some of the thinnest skinned bunch of pantywaists on the planet.  You have to fake happy, you have to fake nice, you have to look fake, shave all the hair from your body, fake boobs, fake nails, fake everything, you must not ever say a word that might offend, you must strike offensive language from classic literature, the irony of it all, so brave and strong and true but God forbid you say something that might offend, and God forbid we have the back bone to take it.    You see a person using sarcasm it seems cruel and biting, but do you look at the whole person and each interaction before you make your condemnation of them as being cruel.  Ironically if you teach people to be able to recognize the humor of sarcasm it tends to not offend.   But here in our fair country people cannot handle it.  It is too much.  Ouch that hurts, I cannot go on. You are mean.  I am going to go tell my Mommy.

I don’t know. I have much to think about.  But I am not sure it is really cruelty.  Maybe for some but not for me.  I don’t have a cruel bone in my body.  Rarely do I feel hateful or so angry that I feel a need to hurt others.  I guess I have this stupid belief that anyone who knows me will know my heart is on my sleeve and it loves, and it cares deeply.  That sometimes people like me protect gigantic hearts by snapping a dishcloth at others with our words.  That sometimes a sharp word although seemingly derisive may in fact be an attempt to find the irony in life, in words, in human interaction.  The irony that seems to give it meaning.  I have to stick by this notion that you say it to protect your heart, you say it to find humor in a situation that otherwise is not funny, and just because you do not understand it yourself, doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.  I will continue to think sarcasm is funny.  I will continue to think acting like a dumbass for laughs or saying yuck yuck yuck yuck and whacking someone on the head with a giant rubber fist is maybe not so funny.  But you are welcome to that kind of humor.  If it actually suits you.  Me I will stick with my sardonic side, my sarcastic side, and the side that laughs out loud at how silly we all are sometimes.  Otherwise, sometimes I think I would just sit down on the ground and start bawling.

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9 comments on “In defense of sarcasm

  1. Confused by your reference to the veil? You mean like a hijab or burqa. If so explain I am quite curious as to what you mean.

    I love sarcasm. I also love puns, but that is another story entirely.

  2. Like you I believe sarcasm is the higher form of humor. If you study the best comedians they rely primarily on sarcasm and irony to get their jokes across. The only issue is finding people to listen.

    People like the dumb & dumber type of humor because it’s the American way; we want to be entertained and we don’t want to have to work for it. That type of humor is basic and different enough from our lives that it makes us laugh but not too different so we still feel we can relate. People have a hard time relating to sarcasm because it requires thought to go beyond the literal into the implied. Sometimes people can’t understand the implied meaning and therefore think sarcasm is stupid because they don’t get it.

    I enjoyed your take on sarcasm so much I am going to “like” this post. To make it seem like a bigger deal the only posts that I have “liked” thusfar have been ones that recommend me 🙂

    • Yes that people want to be entertained without work. Fits the American way as well. Also that they want to function without thought or perhaps higher order thinking. Hoping your last paragraph isn’t sarcastic. 🙂 Thank you.

  3. There really is a beauty to well executed sarcasm that slap-stick humor can never even begin to approach. And I have to agree with you, too many american’s need to get the politically correct, let’s not hurt anyone’s delicate sensibilities out of thier heads and learn to take a joke.

  4. Some things can’t be looked at in terms of right or wrong. Humor is a tool, I think, and like any other tool it can be used in a positive helpful way or abused in a negative hurtful way. And it takes a lot of practice to use it skillfully. To know when, where, and how to use it effectively and appropriately… To understand your audience…

  5. Barbara, I was once told by an incredibly sarcastic principal that ” There is NO place in an Elementary classroom for sarcasm. ” Ironically my students are sarcastic all the time, and from time to time I will be so to a kid and they will laugh right out loud, big belly laughs, not all of them get it, but the ones that do appreciate it. No across the board rules on humor I guess. They also say do not ever touch a student, but mine hug me every single day and sometimes I don’t even see it coming before they do.

  6. LOL regarding the principal. Is any place more appropriate for sarcasm than any educational institution? Hmm?
    Sarcasm is a form of WIT. Now the word “wit” itself may be like the word “gay” these days rife with lost meanings to an audience devoid of knowledge or expertise with word-play and word-craft. The more mediocre a culture’s poetry the more the lack of language art is evident. Lack of language art reveal? —Yeahhhh—let’s be sarcastic–when filling in the blank for your choice of adjective.
    Sarcasm isn’t “nice” play–it’s cutting edge.

    Hi Meg. You’ve been “busy busy”. Hope all is well.

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