Usually found on some of the sites claiming to investigate humor is an old joke about analyzing humor. It is something like, " Investigating humor is like dissecting a frog. When you get done, the frog is dead and nobody laughed."
But, the following suggests something said on CBS this morning that perversely relates too often to politics as well.
In collaboration with Caleb Warren, McGraw has been developing and testing a general theory of humor called the benign violation theory. The theory builds on work by a linguist, Tom Veatch, and integrates existing humor theories to propose that humor occurs when and only when three conditions are satisfied: (1) a situation is a violation, (2) the situation is benign, and (3) both perceptions occur simultaneously. For example, play fighting and tickling, which produce laughter in humans and other primates, are benign violations because they are physically threatening but harmless attacks.
The theory also explains why humor sometimes fails – either because the violation involved does not seem benign, or because it’s so benign there is no violation. For example, play fighting and tickling cease to elicit laughter either when the attack stops (strictly benign) or becomes too aggressive (malign violation). Jokes similarly fail to be funny when either they are too tame or too risqué.
From About: Humor Code