Humor – Sarcasm – Cynicism

This answer from an interview of Jon Acuff (author of Stuff Christians Like) by Brian Allain caught my attention:

“6. In your opinion, how is humor different from sarcasm/cynicism?

“JA: Humor pokes at ideas and issues, sarcasm pokes at individuals and cynicism pokes at hope. Humor reflects, sarcasm mocks and cynicism attacks. I fail at this constantly but I try to stay on humor’s team.”


Earl Palmer talks about negative humor, including humor that diminishes.

“The role of humor in this case is to diminish worth through ridicule and once that emptying has happened a climate of permission to do harm is put into place.”

For someone who pokes fun a lot, its good for me to revisit such notions.

Just my thoughts,


3 responses to “Humor – Sarcasm – Cynicism”

  1. David Goulet says :

    Count me among the forewarned too. The Rwanda genocide was preceded by months of negative humour on the radio whereby the Tutsi were compared to cockroaches, etc.There were silly songs about stomping cockroaches that even Tutsi kids would sing. The resulting "climate of permission" allowed the horror to begin.

  2. Gaffney says :

    Palmer uses examples much like that in his book, when discussing destructive uses of humor. A good chunk of the Nazi propaganda department's job was coming up with jokes.

  3. Janet says :

    Great example, David…I love SCL. Funny and loving. What a rare combination, and so needed in these days of increasing nastiness…. Thanks for posting this, Sean.

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