On those who have "No sense of humour"

On repeated occasions through my life I have heard one person or another describe someone else as having "no sense of humour."

The statement usually surprised me, as it seems to me that a sense of humour is such an essential part of being human that to be entirely without one would be very unusual.

You would also expect that, if some people were really without humour, those who would notice it most would be those with the strongest sense of humour. My impression, and I must qualify this by saying that there have certainly been exceptions, is that it was generally not those who were most prone to laugh at things who were the first to accuse others of not having a sense of humour, but the reverse. And a lot of those with the best ability to laugh at things are also the best at knowing when to curtail their amusement when it might cause distress to others.

Just as people are gloriously different, so the differences between the things which appear funny to two different people exhibit can be very great, and I think this can often explain why one person's sense of humour may not always register in the perception of another.

Which leads me to two conclusions

1)  I don't think there has been a single occasion out of all the many instances where someone has told me that another individual has had no sense of humour, and when I have been in a position to form a view myself, when I have agreed. Sometimes the person they are talking about has what you might call "blind" areas of humour. But even the most apparently crusty individual often has more hidden depths that you might suppose.

2) When someone does describe another person as having no sense of humour this is usually, although not always, more of a reflection on the person making the observation than on the person described. In the majority of cases the individual making the comment does not, perhaps, know the human being being described quite as well as he or she thinks he does.


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