When we go through life sometimes, well, rather often, we experience things that we don't expect. We then remember this experience and hold on to it as we try to make a connection to it to another life event that will either make it known as a pattern of danger or a pattern to learn from our mistakes. By this I mean, did it randomly happen to us or did we play a role in this unexpected thing happening.
Most of humor from words begins to happen after the ages of 4 or 5. After we establish verbal communication and have established a good emotional and physical idea of reality, we have established our expectations from the world and other people. This is the basis for attachment issues in adulthood, but that's a different topic. What happens outside of our expectations is something outside of our reality, and thus, a potential danger.
What might happen in adulthood is we go to a comedy show and the comedian says something that makes us laugh. The bigger the laugh the joke encites from us, the more truth there is in it. Let's break down why.
When we experience something we don't expect to happen, it is marked with a question mark, or perhaps a flag as if we were playing minesweeper. When the game reveals that the flag you placed is in fact a mine, you are surprised and happy. You might even cheer out in happiness that you outsmarted the game and had correct judgment. The comedian is this revealer. They show you where in fact there are mines where you thought there were as well. What happens when they reveal the truth, it ellicits a laugh from the audience as they realize wow it is true, that there is something there.
Comedians Can Be Guides
But there's more to it. Not only does the joke reveal something you believed to be true which surprises you, but it also explains reality which helps guide us and maybe even gain empathy towards why this experience is normal. We become captivated by the comedian because this combination of things immediately shows we can love this person as a very small version of a father figure. Someone who guides us, surprises us, and loves us. A side note to this would be that the comedian often times is looking to be loved, so this is a strange relationship, but I digress.
So the combination of truth, surprise, delivery, and admiration makes us laugh and smile at the comedian with loving eyes. A small caveat would be if we were to be lied to by that comedian after being given the truth, it would negate this whole admiration and instantly breed resentment, but that's part of the industry and how it works.
"That's Not Funny"
So if someone does not laugh at a comedian's joke when everyone else laughs, they are still afraid of that reality and what accepting that reality might do to them and their group/tribe. They might even be the other side of that experience and they do not like the empathy shown to the other side of the equation. Interesting dynamics are played out in comedy. So if you are truly an open person you will laugh more at insightful comedians, and if you are closed off and denying of reality, you will be more likely to not laugh and not truly understand why you aren't laughing. Continue to think differently.