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When is Sarcasm Not Funny?

May 25, 2010

GardenDo you know many people who make use of sarcasm routinely? Sarcasm is quick to offend. We can try ignoring it, but this is ultimately not an answer. What I have observed about people who routinely use sarcasm is that they are easily upset and quick to defend themselves. We all use sarcasm on occasion, in an attempt to be witty perhaps. Mainly, it is to cover vulnerabilities and anger or to reveal irritations.

We use sarcasm when we are upset and reluctant to express ourselves assertively. I know a person who wanted her neighbor to stop setting her sprinkler next to her car. Therefore, one day when she met her outside, she told the woman how she felt. “I know my car is small, but watering it cannot make it grow.” Apparently, the woman got the point, because she ceased watering my friend’s car.

Sarcasm is a form of manipulation that is cutting and hurtful, so the person using it is always prepared. What are their famous comebacks in case they offend? “I was just kidding, man, lighten up!” “Can’t you take a joke?” “You shouldn’t take life so seriously.” I have noticed though that people, who use sarcasm as a usual form of contact, take life very seriously! In fact, a person who directs sarcasm gets highly agitated when other people direct it toward them. I suppose they recognize it abruptly.

Without the use of sarcasm, would life become dull and meaningless? I watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” last week that made me chuckle. Sheldon knocked uninvited on the door of a renowned person. The fellow answered the door and said something sarcastic. Something to the effect of, “Do you think you can just come to my house and knock on my door? While you’re here why don’t you come in and watch the game with me?”

Penny, the girl next door told the man that Sheldon doesn’t understand sarcasm, and turned to flee. The man then showed his true anger and frustration, by saying he would give him something he would understand. Sheldon of course was already sitting on the couch ready to watch the game! I suppose that we need to recognize sarcasm when we hear it and understand the forewarning of upcoming consequences. However, sometimes we just need to laugh.

Sandra Hendricks, EzineArticles.com Expert AuthorWhen we use sarcasm routinely, we fail to say what we mean and mean what we say. This type of communication can disrupt our lives and leave us feeling alone. There is very little satisfaction in having what we want if we have used sarcasm to achieve. The neighbor woman I mentioned in the second paragraph was unfriendly after she stopped watering my friend’s car. I suppose she felt humiliated and talked down to, by her neighbor.


2 Comments to “When is Sarcasm Not Funny?”

  1. Russ Hamel says:

    Hi Sandra,

    As someone who uses sarcasm on a routine basis, I had to stop and ask myself if your observations are correct. I have to admit, albeit ashamedly, that a lot of times sarcasm, especially when used to show up others, is not very funny at all.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched parts of sitcoms, only to turn them off in disgust because the script was soaking with sarcasm. So I have to ask the question, “Is there ever a time when sarcasm IS funny?”

    I think so. Because irritation and anger are often a trigger for sarcasm, I believe that it can be a useful way to diffuse hostile energy as long as other communication skills are strong and the relationship with the recipient is otherwise comfortable and compatible. Let’s face it; we all get irritated and angry at times, especially with those closest to us. Creative sarcasm, if used properly may be just the thing to break the tension and get everyone laughing and on the same page again.

    Sarcasm as a part of self-deprecation can help break down walls. I tend to be a very quiet guy in public. My wife tells me that some people may interpret this as snobbiness. As long as I point that sarcasm-sword at myself, it can help others to see that I’m not so high and mighty after all.

    Situational sarcasm can be quite funny, too. If you think about it, all the best of the old sitcoms – I’m going WAY BACK to the 50′s with the likes of ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Leave It to Beaver’ – exposed ridiculous situations to which we can all relate because we’ve all ‘been there’.

    Of course, like any other form of humor, sarcasm is a matter of personal taste and preference. While I may marvel at the quick-witted cleverness of a comedian at the top of his craft, others will refute and reject the very same routine. I believe sarcasm has its place as long as it is used judiciously.

    All the best from Toronto,
    .-= Russ Hamel´s last blog ..Am I the ONLY One? =-.

    • Sandra says:

      Awesome comment Russ, I have to agree with you on all points! This is a very insightful and informative comment. I do appreciate you adding so much to this thought. I enjoy the antiquated show “Leave It To Beaver” :) Puns are my preferred form of sarcasm.