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What is Dark Humor?

by Kenneth Donnelly on February 19, 2023

Dark humor, black comedy, morbid humor, are only a few the names for a type of comedy that finds humor in serious and painful matters that can come off as rude, offensive or otherwise socially impolite to find humor in. However impolite dark humor can be,  anyone who finds offense in what others can find humor in can go fuck themselves. That said, there is a time and a place for humor of any type and laughing at someone who is pain doesn't make you a connoisseur of dark humor, it just makes you an asshole.

What is the origin of "Black Humor"?

According to "The reception of Jonathan Swift in Europe",  the French term "humor noir" or "black humor" was coined by the Surrealist theorist André Breton in 1935 referring to laughter that arises from cynicism and skepticism. 

How can Dark Humor be Beneficial?

Stressful encounters can result in our bodies and minds reacting in many different ways and finding humor in stressful situations can be a way of coping and being able to adapt quickly. If you ever heard the expression "fight or flight", you may be familiar with the concept of a person responding to a threatening situation by fighting it or running away. We may not find a situation "threatening" to our health, but it still may be a threatening or stressful situation that draws a psychological response that manifest in a physical response such as sweating or rapid heart beat. People who find humor in "dark" or morbid situations have developed a way to assess the situation through cognitive reappraisal and convert the threatening circumstance into something easier to manage via humor.

Can you use Humor as a Coping Mechanism ?

Humor can be a great coping mechanism and is a great way to reduce stress in difficult situations. It can be used as an effective tool to help process emotions, make difficult conversations more bearable and to provide perspective. Studies have shown that humor is linked with better psychological health and can even improve physical health by decreasing stress hormones, increasing endorphins and improving the immune system. Additionally, humor can be used in therapy to help clients process difficult emotions and gain insight. Using dark humor can also help us to distance ourselves from our own suffering and view it from a more detached perspective, allowing us to gain some clarity on the situation. 

Is Dark Humor Appropriate for Everyone?

No, dark humor is not appropriate for everyone. Dark humor has the potential to be considered inappropriate and offensive to some people and should be used with caution. It is important to consider the audience and the context of any situation before making a joke that could be taken out of context or seen as insensitive. Additionally, it's important to remember that even though dark humor can help us cope with difficult emotions and situations, others may not be able to find the humor in the circumstances. Please don't wear one of our designs to a funeral, unless everyone is in on the joke and welcomes the humor.