Game For a Laugh : The Narcissist and Humour
Where does a sense of humour fit into the make-up of the narcissist?
I am pleased to report I have an excellent sense of humour – when it suits me. As a consequence of being well-read, interested in the world (for the purposes of ensuring my place is firmly recognised within it) and the fact I am quick-witted, I am able to fashion wit out of many situations but only on the basis that is serves my purpose. Like nearly everything else, laughter and humour are tools that some of our kind are able to deploy for the purposes of furthering our aims. They are devices and conduits to achieving what we want and how our sense of humour is fashioned is very much dependent on the circumstances in which we find ourselves and our fuel needs.
Take for instance a Friday evening. I often attend a local bar with a number of my inner circle friends. In some of the bars which I frequent regularly I also know outer circle friends who will often be there at the same time and tertiary sources, people I might say hello to and little else.
This is an environment which allows me to hold court as I regale my eager listeners with my tales of corporate derring ‘do, mock the latest blunder of an intimate primary source, argue about politics in order to keep a secondary source in his place in the pecking order and so on. Humour always plays a part. I am well aware that by demonstrating a keen sense of humour and drawing giggles, snorts and belly laughs this is all good positive fuel and aids in the maintenance of the façade to demonstrate that I am entertaining company, fun to be around and amusing. I always find my jokes and witty anecdotes amusing, obviously.
I also recognise that for the purposes of continuing to draw fuel and to maintain the façade that it is necessary for me to laugh at the comments and antics of others. This does not come naturally. If someone else is telling a joke, the spotlight is on them. I do not like that. It does not ignite my fury, far from it but I want the laughter to be because of my anecdote not say my friend Paul’s recollection of an incident at work.
I recognise that what he is saying is meant to be amusing and I know that other people will laugh, but I do not find it funny because it is not humour generated by me. Of course, if I see it as appropriate to maintain the façade and I often do, I will laugh and chortle and throw out a compliment such as ‘very funny’ or ‘good one’ before looking to trump it with my own joke or anecdote. I do not however find the comment amusing per se. I feign my amusement for the purposes of fitting in, maintaining the façade and in order to ensure people respond to my comments in a positive manner.
Of course there will be times when I deem it necessary to allow my lack of humour to manifest. This might be done with some cocky newcomer to the group who thinks that he can take centre stage. As he unleashes a joke or fire out some one liners, I remain unmoved. I can see other people may laugh, but I do not. This is not manufactured. I do not find what is said as funny because it is starving me of fuel and starving me of fuel is not a laughing matter.
I want this young turk to know that I am unamused and therefore I shall not laugh and instead comment about how I have heard it before, (if I have not already interrupted him and told the punchline before him) or that it is a sick joke, or it is racist or homophobic so as to gain the moral high ground (who me?!) and cut him down to size. I know that the Lieutenants in this gathering will see that I am unmoved. They will either wait to see if I laugh and follow suit or if they start laughing and see I am not, they will halt their own laughter. They value their positions in the group. Even if others in the group continue to laugh, there is a degree of discomfort since some of us have not laughed and that provides me with the fuel that I want. I have made it about me and wrested the spotlight away from this interloper.
Of course, when I dole out my observations, witty anecdotes and so forth, I am on sparkling form. I will raid the gags which I have heard elsewhere (all part of the trait acquisition) and whilst it is well-recognised that people re-tell other people’s jokes, I will claim to have invented the joke. Often my humour is spur of the moment and is a genuine pithy comment or witty remark which amuses. I truly relish the fuel that arises from doing so. I am able to allow my sparkling repartee and witty badinage to spread its wings so that those with me are howling with laughter.
Similarly, if I am watching a film or a television programme which is a comedy, I do not sit and laugh to myself. What is the point of that? There is no fuel to be gained. Instead, I might remark by text to a friend that there is a good stand-up performance so that he or she replies in a fuelling manner. If I am with somebody and they are laughing at the comedian on the television I am fighting to keep my fury under control.
I do not want their attention focussed on this gagmeister on the goggle box, I want them fuelling me. Thus, I will either, dependent on whether I am seducing or devaluing, sit frowning at the television and heckling the performer so that whoever is with me reacts and suggests watching something else or berates me for interrupting, I do not mind so long as the attention switches to me and I am gaining fuel. If it is seduction, I will allow my laughter to issue forth to show that I am a man of humour and that I enjoy watching the same comedy as you. I will also use it as a platform to tell my own jokes so that you laugh with me as well.
Mentioning the issue of laughing with me, I am of course content for you to do so, but I cannot stand to be laughed at. None of my kind can. If you laugh at me rather than with me then this is an almighty criticism and the fury is ignited immediately. We often struggle to contain our fury in such an instance and you will witness us lashing out, storming off or creating a scene in order to bring your mocking laugher to an abrupt halt and switch to annoyance, concern, fear or such like. Anything to stop the burning criticism arising from your laughing at us. We hate it. We have a complete sense of humour failure at being mocked in this manner and it will result in repercussions for those who are laughing at us.
I of course know when laughter is required and I decide whether I shall join in or not. Some of our kind are not as attuned and it takes them a little while before they realise that they should be laughing because the sense of humour is not there. Instead, they must realise that it would be appropriate to laugh and you will witness a pause before the laughter begins. Listen carefully and you will hear that it is hollow. Look to their eyes and you shall see that the eyes do not twinkle with amusement but remain fixed and hollow. This show of humour and amusement is an artifice and is part of the Mask Carousel which we operate.
Finally there are instances however which truly do amuse me and make me laugh. Whereas the supposed humour of others is either rejected or embraced all as part of the need to generate fuel, be it positive or negative and I make a decision as to what it will be rather than an instinctive response, there are occasions where I will laugh instinctively. Those are occasions where somebody else has suffered a misfortune, especially if it has been caused by me. Schadenfreude is a marvellous device and one which causes me to smile, to laugh and to bellow with laughter.
This accords with my perverted sense of humour which arises from gaining delight in the misfortune of others. Whereas with other people’s attempts at humour I have to decide whether I will remain nonplussed or feign hilarity for the sake of drawing fuel and the maintenance of the façade, when I see someone fail because I have hidden a report they need, I either break out into paroxysms of mirth behind my office door or if I know it would not look good to do so in front of the façade, I stifle my amusement and allow it to erupt when I am in the gent’s bathroom or with a lieutenant at lunch later.
The basis for my humour has been repeatedly touched on in my discussions with the good doctors over the past months and they have been interested to learn of this valve-like approach to exhibiting humour. They entirely understand that I use it as another device for the gathering of fuel.
They also recognise that my revelling in schadenfreude is related to the streak of sadism which runs through me, but we have discussed the origins of why I operate in this almost staccato like manner when it comes to matters of mirth. It appears that my almost completely regulated approach arises from the fact that I learned under the reign of MatriNarc that laughter was viewed as the voice of a fool and best kept silent. Thus like, as I have learnt and I am learning, much of my development has become warped, the creation of my sense of humour has been affected in much the same way, being seen as a product to be used rather than a natural consequence of matters arising, save for those where I witness the manufactured misery of another.
Some say that if they didn’t laugh they would cry.
I wasn’t allowed the luxury of either.
Thus I turned humour into another weapon; either to charm, to withhold or to belittle.
It really is no laughing matter.