Was Chris Rock Funny or Insulting? The Relationship between Time and Humor.


I was in an Arizona City coffee shop a while ago and picked up a Casa Grande paper called the Dispatch.  One of the headlines was, “More Time to Kill?”  The headline seemed to exhibit a latent humor or sarcasm.  It was an article about the execution rate in Arizona which is one of the busiest in the nation.  I thought, “Well that would be a good subject for a blog but perhaps too heavy for a Friday.” So lets take a subject that is more fun and save the heavy stuff for next week.  By the way, tomorrow Karen and I are driving back to Wisconsin so I may miss a blog or two.  More need to think about the drive and less about blog subjects.   The issue or question I want to talk about before my drive begins is what do “Time” and “Humor” have in common?


Time and humor are intimately related.  Have you ever noticed that a good comedian has an extraordinary sense of timing?  For a comedian to be funny, their timing has to be spot on.  A comedian has to sense the pulse of the audience as well as gauge the temper of the day.  For instance, jokes about the Ukraine would probably not sound funny today due to the seriousness of the tragedy.  However, comedians often joke about minor disasters and other failings when the time seems right.  The “Slap Heard Round the World” was a joke about another person.  Some feel that Chris Rock went out of bounds with his joke about Jada’s hair because of her medical condition.  Nevertheless, comedians often joke about “off limit” subjects.  When is the time right to tackle a sensitive subject or to make a joke about an issue that will not offend anyone is a difficult question to answer?


Some comedians get away with telling racist and sexist jokes. They are able to sense the mood and nature of the audience. They also have an excellent sense of the Zeitgeist.  The Zeitgeist is a German word that roughly translates to “tempo of the times or the sign of the times.”  During the sixties, many of us took ourselves very seriously but today we can look back and joke about hippies, Woodstock, flower children and many of the quaint ideas we had back then.  Just look at how silly the dress and clothes look from back in the sixties.  We thought we were so cool then and now we laugh at how clownish we all looked.


If you watch the evening talk show hosts, they are masters at getting the timing just right with their audience. Even when they flub a joke, they are able to make an instant comeback.  Not only do they have to have excellent timing for their jokes but the selection of guests is very critical as well.  All of us want to see guests who are current in the public mind for one reason or another.  Perhaps they have an upcoming movie, divorce or some other noteworthy event.  If they are not connected to any significant happenings, we are not likely to be as interested in them.  Being a celebrity has a great deal to do with timing as well as talent.  Great celebrities are great marketers.  This is probably why a jerk named Trump became president.

How do you deal with humor in your life?  What in your life today can you laugh at that you might not have been able to years ago?  What do you regard as so serious today that you do not ever think you could laugh at?  What if you are wrong?  Is your life so serious that you cannot find anything humorous about it?  How could you add more humor to your life?  How could you find a sense of better timing in your life to deal with humor?  When was the last joke you told?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. margiran
    Apr 09, 2022 @ 06:55:21

    A subject which promotes a wide degree of views for me and insufficient space here to do it justice John.
    Humour is very personal isn’t it?

    “ When is the time right to tackle a sensitive subject or to make a joke about an issue that will not offend anyone is a difficult question to answer?” – it certainly is. I would suggest impossible! It seems there is always someone, somewhere who will be offended. The interesting question is what, if anything, is done about that?



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Apr 09, 2022 @ 12:19:38

      Hi Margiran, Thanks for your insights. I think you are right about the personal aspect humor.. I guess we cannot go through life without offending someone. John

      Liked by 1 person


  2. margiran
    Apr 09, 2022 @ 07:05:25

    Our appreciation of humour is very personal isn’t it and instigates a wide degree of viewpoints, far too many for me to do it any justice here.
    “ When is the time right to tackle a sensitive subject or to make a joke about an issue that will not offend anyone is a difficult question to answer?” – I would suggest impossible to answer John. There is always someone, somewhere ready to feel offended. The burning question, as you so interestingly raise, is what, if anything, do we do about it.

    Liked by 1 person


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