It’s hard to tell which is more strangely humorous: this anime/manga image of a character laughing or the guy I recorded repeatedly laughing out loud on the bus while reading a manga. In any case, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself regardless of the fact that I had no idea what the joke was.
This got me thinking, what the hell makes laughter alone so funny? Maybe it’s just the situation that the laughter occurs in. This nerd was laughing in a public place, by himself, over something many people wouldn’t even admit to reading. That’s humorous to me. Then again, I know certain people who make anything that’s already funny ten times funnier with their laughter.
There must be some scientific literature on laughter that could shed some light on this, right? Bill Nye or some other “scientist” who’s supposed to be funny has probably done a whole series of experiments to decipher the effects of laughter. Nope. The science guy seems to have failed me. I did end up reading a bit about how you can seemingly understand someone’s emotional state by their voice even if you don’t know their language, though. (If you’re interested, see: Cross-Cultural Recognition of Basic Emotions Through Nonverbal Vocalizations, Sauter et al.; Recognizing Emotions in a Foreign Language, Pell et al.; Vocal Emotion Recognition Across Disparate Cultures, Bryant, Barrett.)
In any case, I’m hoping that I can use laughter as a compositional device. If the rhythm is the culprit, I can use that maybe to create false expectations and then resolutions. Even if not, it will at least be highly useful for creating rhythms in general. Just think of how many crazy laughs I’ve recorded that can be turned into a frightening army of stupid.