Black Humor 101

What is black humor? Well the wikipedia definition is a good one: a sub-genre of comedy and satire in which topics and events that are usually regarded as taboo are treated in a satirical or humorous manner while retaining their seriousness. Synonyms include dark comedy, black comedy, dark humor, and morbid humor.

This image of how not to fast-rope onto a ship is an excellent example of that:

The recent events of the Israeli Defence Forces trying to stop the flotilla trying to break the embargo of Gaza is a deadly serious matter and it hardly seems worthy of laughter. However, this pseudo-instructional image satirizes and mocks the IDF for doing what they obviously should not have done. (At least in the eyes of the illustrator). I am a big fan of black humor: it is sometimes the only way to deal with extermely difficult subjects. This is a well done example of it.

From Fast-Roping 101 – The Daily Dish  By Andrew Sullivan

4 responses to “Black Humor 101

  1. League of Gentlemen (the non-extraordinary version) which was introduced to me is another example of black humor that no one should watch unless they want to be traumatized for life.

    It’s too late for me now.

  2. In another context, maybe, but real people were hurt here. To look at the other side of the coin, are we seeing cartoons about activists who brought sticks to a gun fight, thus getting shot? Such a cartoon would, I believe, be considered in bad taste.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Good points, Tony. Black humor is tricky, no doubt, and since it crosses the line by touching on taboos, not everyone is going to see the humor in it. And it will often seem in bad taste and even cruel. Those are some of the “cons” about black humor. As for the “pros”, black humor is an effective way of satirizing or criticizing something, and it can deflect the anger, the hostility, the frustration, the bewilderment that might otherwise come across in discussing a topic. Black humor can also help dealing with overwhelming negative situations.

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