The origins of Generation Z’s sense of humor are cloudy but deeper than expected



Gen Z, along with their influence and unity due to social media, can find humor in the simplest of things.

Some amusing anecdotes and one-liners that elicit a laugh can travel through the generations, carrying chuckles with them. However, most jokes are trapped in the era they originated in, leaving both the past and the future in utter confusion as to how anyone could possibly find such an odd piece of media humorous. Generally, parents’ jokes don’t really fly with their children, but the inverse is even more true.

Generation Z, which includes everyone born from 1997 to 2012, has a curio of images with nothing particularly hilarious about them and inconspicuously dark jokes, as well as phrases with no real punchlines. Despite this, most people from Gen Z will roll on the floor with laughter or at least exhale with more vigor when they see something utterly ridiculous such as the U-HAUL sign missing some letters.

Other generations are left in complete disbelief that Gen Z finds the most unusual things to be entertaining. With the “Boomers” (1946-1964) having their pessimistic and political wise-cracks, Gen X (1965-1980) constantly spouting awful dad jokes, and Millennials (1981-1996) posting and even speaking in memes and MySpace lingo, the humor for each generation varies greatly. However, the things that Gen Z gets a kick out of are equally confusing to the Gen Z-ers themselves.

Interestingly, the oddities of Gen Z jokes can be tied to things that are quite the opposite of funny. Despite being regularly branded as the “soft” generation, Gen Z has a lot on their plate—from climate change disasters looming over their heads to living out their best days amid a global pandemic, there are many things that trouble the times of Gen Z, and that’s not even mentioning mental health and personal issues.

Oftentimes, due to such pressures on Gen Z, the generation will use humor as a coping mechanism. This is clearly the origins of the rise of dark humor and making light of issues that are quite serious and severe, but this doesn’t explain how complete gibberish is also such a popular form of comedic relief.

Oftentimes, due to such pressures on Gen Z, the generation will use humor as a coping mechanism.

This could be due to members of Gen Z clinging to anything, trying to find some light in the form of humor in any piece of media. However, a more probable explanation is that such simple, nonsensical things in such a dark and complex world are just so amusing due to their absurdness. I can definitely attest to this—simple changes that make an image a bit weirder are incredibly funny, such as removing letters or being of terrible spelling and quality, have a wild effect that have me wheezing every time.

Another reason for this could be that there is much unification among Gen Z online due to the extensive reach social media has in their lives. The unspoken “inside jokes” among everyone who has social media and is active within the community are a uniting force that brings with it the types of bizarre pieces of media that are only entertaining to Gen Z.

With new technology, events, and social norms, it’s no surprise that ideas of humor aren’t quite the same when comparing generations. On the other hand, Gen Z’s idea of comedy is much more “out there” than any other. While there are theories of what could cause such a phenomenon, even Gen Z themselves aren’t sure why a picture of a frog labeled “arson” is the vanguard of humor.