I used to be a supportive laugher. I’d laugh to be polite. I’d laugh at any joke that I could tell had been an attempt to be a joke. If you wanted me to laugh – I’d do it – even if it wasn’t funny. Lots of people laugh like this. It’s a kind of socialized politeness that requires that we all pretend to find something funny.
I tend not to do this as much as I used to. I’m not saying I never do it. I do – especially at cocktail parties and networking events.
When a person is in charge of a big organization, all their jokes are funny. Ha! Ha! That’s so funny, sir!
But aside from when I’m trying to suck up to someone – I do it so much less than I used to. I’m much less likely to give a performer a polite laugh, for example. If they don’t earn it, they don’t get it. If it’s not funny, I’m not laughing.
This is mostly down to clown training – where we learn how potent failure is – how giving someone a polite laugh only prolongs their agony. They need to feel the joke die in order to move on from it. To not laugh, or rather to only laugh when they are genuinely funny is a kindness. To not laugh when something fails to be funny is a point of honor.
It is the clown’s honor code. That is why it seems as though I stand aloof sometimes.