I’m Not Joking

Jokes, by their very nature, are exclusive

joke irony UCL Buzz

People should stop making jokes. Not just making jokes. People should stop performing, writing or even thinking up jokes. Nowhere is a better place to start this radical, yet sensible, movement than at university.

Becoming a student can be a frightening thing. You move from somewhere you know, from people you know, to a new world of strange buildings and stranger faces. You are certainly going to wonder if you'll fit in, if your clothes are fashionable, if your hair is stylish, if your duvet cover is acceptable and if your crockery is up to the supremely high standards that everyone else will hold it against. In short, it is a time when you are desperate to be included. Jokes are not conducive to this need for inclusivity.

Jokes, by their very nature, are exclusive. They single someone or a group of people out and make them look idiotic. In the best case scenario the people being excluded are the idiots who don't get the joke anyway, morlock-like outcasts who remain nonplussed even when the joke is flung into their vacant faces like a damp cuttlefish. But at their worst, jokes can create and maintain unfair stereotypes. In our modern world of globalisation and unity, surely it is only harmful to 'humorously' identify and single out the ethnic origins of men entering a pub? And in a society which prides itself on developing equality, characterising the differences between female hair colours as markers for intelligence is sickening.

The other danger with jokes is their tendency to grossly exaggerate the truth. Many comedians create fictitious scenarios in their acts but present them as real life in order to increase the comic effect and others may horrendously overuse hyperbole in a disgusting attempt to garner laughs. This is essentially lying and should not be tolerated, especially when now more than ever the value of truthful speech is so high.

The difficulty is that most people who are offended by jokes, or who don't get them at all but merely watch as the punchline flies over their head, don't say anything. They don't speak up and register their complaint but stay silent. And this has to change. We need a revolution where the normally voiceless offended can stand up and proclaim: "Stop making jokes! They're not funny and we don't get them!"

This may be a daunting challenge but it is one we mustn't shrink from. If we don't start this movement right now then soon it will be too late. And no-one wants to live in a world where jokes continue to be made and people continue to laugh.