Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 11:24:59 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

On the difference between wit and humor

By
18th-May-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Charles S Brooks :
Charles Brooks, an unpredictable essayist, is hard to classify. He is close kin to Charles Lamb in that much of the pleasure of reading him is in the whimsical way he expresses his random thoughts. Nevertheless, Brooks does have a destination and he reaches it swiftly in spite of seeming to saunter toward it.
I am not sure that I can draw an exact line between wit and humor. Perhaps the distinction is so subtle that only those persons can decide who have long white beards. But even an ignorant man, so long as he is clear of Bedlam (a mental institution),  may have an opinion.
I am quite positive that of the two, humor is the more comfortable and more livable quality. Humorous persons, if their gift is genuine and not a mere shine upon the surface, are always agreeable companions and they sit through the evening best. They have pleasant mouths turned up at the corners. To these corners the great Master of marionettes has fixed the strings and he holds them in his nimblest fingers to twitch them at the slightest jest. But the mouth of a merely witty man is hard and sour until the moment of its discharge. Nor is the flash from a witty man always comforting, whereas a humorous man radiates a general pleasure and is like another candle in the room.
I admire wit, but I have no real liking for it. It has been too often employed against me, whereas humor is always an ally. It never points an impertinent finger into my defects. Humorous persons do not sit like explosives on a fuse. They are safe and easy comrades. But a wit's tongue is as sharp as a donkey driver's stick. I may gallop the faster for its prodding, yet the touch behind is too persuasive for any comfort.
Wit is a lean creature with sharp inquiring nose, whereas humor has a kindly eye and comfortable girth. Wit, if it be necessary, uses malice to score a point-like a cat it is quick to jump-but humor keeps the peace in an easy chair. Wit has a better voice in a solo, but humor comes into the chorus best. Wit is as sharp as a stroke of lightning, whereas humor is diffuse like sunlight. Wit keeps the season's fashions and is precise in the phrases and judgments of the day, but humor is concerned with homely eternal things. Wit wears silk, but humor in homespun endures the wind. Wit sets a snare, whereas humor goes off whistling without a victim in its mind. Wit is sharper company at table, but humor serves better in mischance and in the rain. When it tumbles wit is sour, but humor goes uncomplaining without its dinner. Humor laughs at another's jest and holds its sides, while wit sits wrapped in study for a lively answer. But it is a workaday world in which we live, where we get mud upon our boots and come weary to the twilight-it is a world that grieves and suffers from many wounds in these years of war: and therefore as I think of my acquaintance, it is those who are humorous in its best and truest meaning rather than those who are witty who give the more profitable companionship.
And then, also, there is wit that is not wit. As someone has written:
Nor ever noise for wit on me could pass,
When thro’ the braying I discerned the ass.
I sat lately at dinner with a notoriously witty person (a really witty man) whom our hostess had introduced to provide the entertainment. I had read many of his reviews of books and plays, and while I confess their wit and brilliancy, I had thought them to be hard and intellectual and lacking in all that broader base of humor which aims at truth. His writing-catching the bad habit of the time-is too ready to proclaim a paradox and to assert the unusual, to throw aside in contempt the valuable haystack in a fine search for a paltry needle. His reviews are seldom right-as most of us see the right- but they sparkle and hold one's interest for their perversity and unexpected turns.
In conversation I found him much as I had found him in his writing-although, strictly speaking, it was not a conversation, which requires an interchange of word and idea and is turn about. A conversation should not be a market where one sells and another buys. Rather, it should be a bargaining back and forth, and each person should be both merchant and buyer. My rubber plant for your victrola, each offering what he has and seeking his deficiency. It was my friend B - who fairly put the case when he said that he liked so much to talk that he was willing to pay for his audience by listening in his turn.
But this was a speech and a lecture. He loosed on us from the cold spigot of his intellect a steady flow of literary allusion-a practice which he professes to hold in scorn-and wit and epigram. He seemed torn from the page of Meredith. He talked like ink. I had believed before that only people in books could talk as he did, and then only when their author had blotted and scratched their performance for a seventh time before he sent it to the printer. To me it was an entirely new experience, for my usual acquaintances are good common honest daytime woolen folk and they seldom average better than one bright thing in an evening.
At first, I feared that there might be a break in his flow of speech, which I should be obliged to fill. Once, when there was a slight pause-a truf. He was engaging him-I launched a frail remark; but it was swept off at once in the renewed torrent. And seriously it does not seem fair. If one speaker insists to change the figure - on laying all the cobbles of a conversation, he should at least allow another to carry the tarot and fill in the chinks. When the evening was over, although I recalled two or three clever stories, which I shall botch in the telling, I came away tired and dissatisfied, my tongue dries with disuse.
Now I would not seek that kind of man as a companion with whom to be becalmed in a sailboat, and I would not wish to go to the country with him, least of all to the North Woods or any place outside of civilization. I am sure that he would sulk if he were deprived of an audience. He would be crotchety at breakfast across his bacon. Certainly for the woods a humorous man is better company, for his humor in mischance comforts both him and you. A humorous man-and here lies the heart of the matter-a humorous man has the high gift of regarding an annoyance in the very stroke of it as another man shall regard it when the annoyance is long past. If a humorous person falls out of a canoe he knows the exquisite jest while his head is still bobbing in the cold water. A witty man, on the contrary, is sour until he is changed and dry: but in a week's time when company is about, he will make a comic story of it!
My friend A-- with whom I went once into the Canadian woods has genuine humor, and no one can be a more satisfactory comrade. I do not recall that he said many comic things, and at bottom he was serious as the best humorists are. But in him there was a kind of joy and exaltation that lasted throughout the day. If the duffle were piled too high and fell about his ears, if the dinner was burned or the tent blew down in a driving storm at night, he met these mishaps as though they were the very things he had come north to get, as though without them the trip would have lacked its spice. This is an easy philosophy in retrospect but hard when the wet canvas falls across you and the rain beats in. A- laughed at the very moment of disaster as another man will laugh later in an easy chair. I see him now swinging his ax for firewood to dry ourselves when we were spilled in a rapids; and again, while pitching our tent on a sandy beach when another storm had drowned us. And there is a certain cry of his (dully, Wow! on paper) expressive to the initiated of all things gay, which could never issue from the mouth of a merely witty man.
Real humor is primarily human-or divine, to be exact-and after that the fun may follow naturally in its order. Not long ago I saw Lousis Jouvet of the French Company play Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek. It was a most humorous performance of the part, and the reason is that the actor made no primary effort to be funny. It was the humanity of his playing, making his audience love him first of all that provoked the comedy. His long thin legs were comical and so was his drawling talk, but the very heart and essence was this love he started in his audience. Poor fellow! how delightfully he smoothed the feathers in his hat! How he feared to fight the duel! It was easy to love such a dear silly human fellow. A merely witty player might have drawn as many laughs, but there would not have been the catching at the heart.  As for books and the wit or humor of their pages, it appears that wit fades, whereas humor lasts. Humor use permanent nutgalls. But is there any thing more melancholy than the wit of another generation? In the first place, this wit is intertwined with forgotten circumstance. It hangs on a fashion as on the style of a coat. It arose from a forgotten bit of gossip. In the play of words the sources of the pun are lost. It is like a local jest in a narrow coterie, barren to an outsider. Sydney Smith was the most celebrated wit of his day, but he is dull reading now. Black wood's at its first issue was a witty daring sheet, but for us the pages are stagnant. I suppose that no one now laughs at the witticisms of Thomas Hood. Where are the wits of yester year? Yet the humor of Falstaff and Lamb and Fielding remains and is a reminder to us that humor, to be real, must be founded on humanity and on truth. n

    Source: Types of Literature

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

The miseries of River Karnafuli must end


WITH alleged support from a section of officials, the encroachment of Karnafuli banks is still rampant by some powerful quarters flouting the High Court order.  Quoting investigation report done by the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC), the media yesterday reported that none of the 2,181 illegal structures has been removed ...

Cricket »

David Warner to undergo surgery on injured elbow


Banned former Australian vice-captain David Warner is expected to undergo minor surgery on his elbow Tuesday after returning home from the Bangladesh Premier League with an injury.Warner, alongside former skipper Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft, was suspended from international cricket over a ball-tampering scandal during a Test match in ...

Entertainment »

Will Kareena contest Lok Sabha Election 2019?


Kareena’s name has been proposed by two Congress leaders, Guddu Chouhan and Anas Khan, as a possible candidate for Bhopal parliamentary seat where the grand old party has not tasted success since 1984. Local leaders of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal have demanded Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor Khan be ...

Football »

Tuchel draws best out of me at PSG:Neymar


Neymar says his strong bond with Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel inspires the Brazilian forward to give his "life on the pitch", as the French giants gear up for a trip to Manchester United in the Champions League next month.Neymar, the world's most expensive player, scored twice in Saturday's record ...

International »

May to unveil new Brexit strategy


AFP :British Prime Minister Theresa May unveils her Brexit "Plan B" to parliament on Monday after MPs shredded her EU divorce deal, deepening the political gridlock 10 weeks from departure day.Britain will crash out of the European Union on March 29 unless MPs can force a delay or come up ...

Entertainment »

Munmun, Achol`s movie Ragi


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Last week shooting of Mizanur Rahman Mizan directed movie Ragi again started at BFDC in the capital’s Karwanbazar area. In the middle days, its shooting was stopped. This time Achol has been attached with the movie. After Achol’s engagement in Ragi, its shooting got momentum. In the ...

Sports »

Ko, Ji charge to LPGA lead with Henderson one back


New Zealand's Lydia Ko and South Korea's Ji Eun-hee each fired a five-under par 66 to share the lead after Saturday's third round of the LPGA Tournament of Champions.Ko and Ji charged into contention by going low on the front side and parring their way home to stand on 13-under ...

Football »

Salah fires Liverpool seven points clear, Arsenal rock Chelsea


Liverpool moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League as Mohamed Salah's double inspired a dramatic 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace, while Arsenal ignited their top-four bid by beating Chelsea on Saturday.With second-placed Manchester City travelling to bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield on Sunday, Liverpool seized the chance to tighten ...

City »

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina being greeted by Home Minister, secretary and IGP during her visit to the Home Ministry yesterday.


International »

Trump offers 3-year protection for immigrants in exchange for border wall


The Washington Post :President Donald Trump on Saturday offered Democrats three years of deportation protections for some immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, a proposal immediately rejected by Democrats and derided by conservatives as amnesty.Aiming to end the 29-day partial government shutdown, Trump outlined his plan ...

Cricket »

Rangpur Riders beat Sylhet Sixers


Sports Reporter :Rangpur Riders beat Sylhet Sixers by four wickets in their match of the UCB 6th Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 cricket at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.Chasing Sylhet's fighting total of 194 for the loss of four wickets in 20 overs, Rangpur Riders reached the winning target ...

Sports »

Virat Kohli attends Australian Open, posts picture with Roger Federer


The Indian team completed its most successful campaign Down Under as they won the Test and ODI series comfortably. After close to two months of energy-sapping cricket, skipper Virat Kohli along with wife Anushka Sharma looked in a relaxed mood and attended day six of the Australian Open in Melbourne ...

Entertainment »

Alia , Madhuri Nene on the set of Kalank


Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanjay Dutt and Sonakshi Sinha star together in Kalank. Dharma Productions' next, Kalank, is being directed by Abhishek Varman. The film's shooting is currently on and Varun Dhawan wrapped up shooting for his part of the film just yesterday. However, ...

International »

Afghan Taliban reject talks with US in Pakistan


Reuters, Peshawar :The Afghan Taliban rejected reports in the Pakistani media that they were prepared to resume meetings with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad and repeated their refusal to deal directly with the Afghan government.Pakistani newspapers and television stations reported that a meeting in Islamabad was in prospect ...

Editorial »

Bravery and courage of a Bangladeshi expatriate


FOR bravery and courage, a Bangladeshi expatriate has been honoured as he saved the life of a three-year-old boy in UAE. Bangladeshi expatriate Farouk, who works as a welder in Ajman of UAE, rescued the child thrown from the balcony of a burning apartment by his mother.Bangladeshi community in the ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news