Posts Tagged ‘Laughter’

I lived in eastern Germany for four months of 2008. There were a million weird things about living there, but there was one that I didn’t anticipate: Germans don’t fake-laugh. If someone in Germany is laughing, it’s because he or she physically can’t help themselves; they are laughing because they’re authentically amused. Nobody there ever laughs because of politeness. Nobody laughs out of obligation. And what this made me recognize is how much American laughter is purely conditioned. Most of our laughing—I would say at least 51 percent—has no relation to humor or to how we actually feel. […] It had never before occurred to me how often I reflexively laugh; only in the absence of a response did I realize I was laughing for no reason whatsoever. It somehow felt comfortable. Now that I’m back in the U.S., I notice this all the time: People half-heartedly chuckle throughout most casual conversations, regardless of the topic. It’s a modern extension of the verbalized pause, built by TV laugh tracks. […] This is not the only reason Germans think Americans are retarded, but it’s definitely one of them.

Chuck Klosterman: Eating the Dinosaur, New York 2009, p. 165-166.

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