30 Responses To Jimmy Fallon Asking People To Share The Funniest And Weirdest Things Their Grandma Said
Jimmy Fallon is at it again. The host of The Tonight Show asked his viewers to share their best grandma quotes for the popular Hashtags segment, and they delivered. Big time.
From a 95-year-old nana meeting her grandchild's college friends to another one giving a man the finger because she didn't like the way he was driving, people flooded Fallon with the most memorable interactions they've had with their grams and it's kind of heartwarming to see that decades of life experience gives a refined flavor to your sense of humor as well as the confidence to flaunt it around.
Interestingly, we have evidence that suggests a person's sense of humor actually changes with age. Jennifer Stanley, a psychology professor at the University of Akron, gathered 30 young adults, 22 middle-aged people, and 29 senior citizens to watch a variety of different sitcom clips. The subjects rated how socially appropriate and how funny they found each clip. Stanley also used facial electromyography to determine how much the clips activated their smile muscles.
And just to be clear, "to be coded as a smile, there had to be an upturn of the corners of the lips plus a wrinkling of the crow’s feet at the corners of the eyes, or a pushing up of the cheeks."
The research found that older adults were much less likely to be fans of the aggressive style of humor—laughing at the expense of others. The 64-to-84-year-olds found a clip from The Office about 23 percent less funny than the middle-aged people did, and about 19 percent less funny than the 17-to-21-year-olds did.
Young adults were also more likely to smirk at the videos that showed self-deprecating humor, as exemplified in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in which Larry pumps his waiter for information about how much his friend left as a tip.
The older participants, meanwhile, appreciated affiliative humor—the kind of jokes that bring people together through a funny or awkward situation. Stanley said a Golden Girls clip in which the women try to buy condoms and suffer an embarrassing price check is a good example.
Humor relies on the psychological idea of the benign violation: situations that are mostly wrong but also remain at least a little bit right.
But if something is too banal, it won’t be funny. Cross the line, though, and you’ve just offended the person. Michael Scott from The Office can apparently be a little too much for older viewers.
So why don't grandmas find that "aggressive" humor funny you ask, young man? One explanation might be that the jokes in sitcoms have changed over time, and today's older people are just accustomed to a gentler kind of wit they were exposed to earlier.
It's very possible that people develop a greater emotional connection to a show from their own generation—Golden Girls is a much earlier show than either The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Stanley suspects a big reason for the generation gap in humor is that as people age, they experience a variety of physical and emotional setbacks—declining cognitive faculties, friends passing away—and the affiliative style of humor helps everyone deal with these losses.
“Other work has shown that the importance of having people close by you when you experience the physical and emotional loss of aging,” she told The Atlantic. “Maybe affiliative humor is more helpful for promoting that type of experience.”
Stanley’s study can be handy when we're at the table with our family, trying to get through dinner without making a scene.
To keep the peace with elders, it suggests, act a little more like Blanche Devereaux and a little less like the boorish branch manager of Dunder Mifflin.