Dark Humor: When The Line Is Crossed

Havana Garrett, Reporter

Being in high school, we have all heard a joke that has crossed the line. Most of the time, these jokes are excused with “I just have a really dark sense of humor.”

But when does dark humor cross a line? And when do these jokes go beyond humor and become disturbing? 

Every joke starts out the same way, usually innocently enough and then escalating into something completely uncalled for.

Dark or black humor is defined by Merriam-Webster as “humor marked by the use of usually morbid, ironic, grotesquely comic episodes.”

These jokes tend to be racist, sexist, or overly sexually graphic. While it overall depends on the crowd of people who are engaging in this type of conversation, in my experience, more people seem to be more uncomfortable with dark humor than comically satisfied. In these scenarios, it’s difficult to call out the joke for fear of being accused of taking it too seriously. 

The main issue with dark humor is not that people should censor their senses of humor, but instead that the underlying themes expressed in these “jokes” could indicate a greater prejudice.

When humor is used to excuse prejudice, it becomes a trend that allows that prejudice to continue to occur.

By telling discriminative jokes and riddles, people gain satisfaction and become more comfortable with behaving in a bigoted manner.

If someone were to outright say something discriminative, they would hopefully be reprimanded. But if it’s phrased in the form of a joke, it becomes something to laugh at instead of something to confront. 

Dark humor varies in severity, and isn’t always a disguise for prejudice. It is often how a lot of people cope with things they are dealing with on their own, for example, cracking a joke at their own expense.

Dark humor can be okay in environments in which everyone participating in the conversation feels safe and comfortable and as long as the jokes aren’t targeting any group or person.

Playfulness is okay as long as everyone is able to enjoy the conversation and not feel threatened.