Comparison of humor and rumor on the basis of purpose, content and result with humor standing out due to its qualities of relief and entertainment.

The motivation behind writing this post is not only, the similarities in the sound and spelling of the two words, looking like twins, but also other commonalities, despite apparent contradictory nature of the two forms of communication. In the last post humor was depicted as:

– The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness.
– That, which is intended to induce laughter or amusement.
– The ability to perceive, enjoy or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd.
– That, which puts people at ease. Builds rapport and reduces tension.
– That, which provides a form of entertainment and a form of human communication.
Let us now come to rumor, which is, viewed as:
– An unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern.
– Talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source
– A statement or report current without known authority for its truth.
Let us compare the two  on the basis of purpose, content and result.

The purpose of humor is an attempt or an effort to give relief to people from harsh realities of life by providing moments of joy, smile and laughter. According to one view the purpose of rumor is to fulfill the vacuum created by the absence of an authentic or comprehensive account or information of an event, issue or any matter of public interest. However, according to another view the purpose of rumor is to produce sensation, controversy and discord as a vehicle to produce news. The view finds support in “Rumors: Uses, Interpretations, and Images” by Professor Jean-Noel Kapferer who described rumor as the earliest form of media.


The content of humor is non- serious, not based on any fact and communicated, by word of mouth, literature or media expected to result in laughter, smile or at least a ripple of joy. The content of rumor is mostly very serious not based on any authentic source, communicated by word of mouth or media, believable and have the tendency to gain attention quickly.


Humor results in diluting the stressful conditions of life and spreading joyous moments. Rumor results in either, confusing people about the real facts of an event or matter of public interest or force those affected to react leading to a lively or acrimonious debate. However, as we see humor and rumor has one thing definitely in common, non- truthfulness of the contents. While in humor, there is no doubt that the contents have no semblance of reality due to the nature and purpose of the communication, in rumor the information communicated has no authentic source. The moment it gets that source it would cease to be rumor and become a news. As for content one thing, which is ironic with respect to the content of humor and rumor is, that content of humor is non-serious and it is not taken badly, while the serious content of rumor is not always taken in a good sense. The reason might be that it is generally believed that humor is good-natured and does not cause any harm while rumor is bad- natured and could cause harm. There are strong arguments in favor of this proposition. While the purpose of humor is to give relief and entertainment the purpose of rumor is not always finding new information, but inventing them for personal gains. Sometimes it takes the form of an organized effort to manipulate the public using media and becomes propaganda.

Summing up it can be said that  humor is on a  higher level than rumor. While rumor generates controversy, humor spreads joy, happiness and laughter. However, GAIL DE VOS “In Tales, Rumors, and Gossip” says that “Rumors are transmitted because they are surprising, funny, or shocking, and the teller wishes to entertain the listeners. Similar to the telling of a joke, the passing of a rumor provides entertainment and prestige. That is why urban legends last so long: they are savoured at the end of a meal, or in a bar while sipping on an after-dinner drink; they provide a certain momentary pleasure in consuming. The view has little following because even if it provides entertainment or pleasure it is negative in nature and is at the expense of others. The overall discussion proves the importance of humor, its innocence and its service to humanity.

By: Tasneem Hameed


This entry was posted in Comparison of humor and rumor, Content of rumor, humor, Purpose of rumor, Rumor meaning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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