The list of styles of sense of humor can be quite extensive, but it would not be
family-defined, culturally bound, and definitely in the eye of the beholder.

When I ask people whether they have a sense of humor, the answers are tied to what
they perceive this to mean. In other words, they relate to a specific type of sense of
humor. They see themselves as having any of the attributes that relate to:

1. Enjoying sarcastic humor
2. Participating in harmless practical jokes
3. Laughing easily
4. Being able to tell a joke
5. Welcoming puns, oxymorons, riddles
6. Having wit
7. Clowning
8. Having a dry sense of humor

Is it possible that the person with a "good" sense of humor is capable of enjoying,
participating in, and welcoming all of the styles of humor? The reason this is
mentioned is that we often say someone has a good sense of humor as just a sense
of humor. This seems to indicate that some folks have a sense of humor while others
have a good sense of humor. It indicates that there are different levels to this
marvelous character trait.

If people have a good sense of humor, are they seen as frivolous, inane, or silly? This
is clearly suggested when one attempts to bring either a sense of humor or humor into
the worship setting. It is all right to have humor on a Sunday evening, or at the
weekend retreat, or for the young people, but certainly do not bring a clown into the
worship service. Worship is too important and serious to involve this kind of silliness.

Why not look at the list above and answer the question, "Do I have a sense of
humor?" If you were to defend your position, what would you have to say about your
own understanding of this characteristic? What was your family like? Where did you
learn about humor? What shape has your sense of humor taken?

Mennonite Historical Bulletin, October 2000
Good Sense of

by Jep Hostetler