Abstract: In this article, I suggest a new theoretical approach according to which the basis for the creation of humor lies in our life expectancy.
During the span of one’s life, human beings endeavor to achieve goals. Because life expectancy is limited, we have to divide our time into various activities that we want, need, or require.
We allocate a portion of our time on earth for each of our activities: Eating, dressing, going to work, watching a movie. Many activities are common to human society, though cultural differences may be discerned. They might differ not only in the content of the activity but also in the time allocated to each. The time framework constitutes one of the models according to which human beings are supposed to act. The time performance of an activity which is in accordance with this model is perceived as the norm. Any deviation is considered a breach of the norm and an unusual situation.
We live in several frames simultaneously, such as: physical, social, cultural and technological. At the basis of each lies that of the life expectancy frame, which is the infrastructure of all the others. The life expectancy frame shapes the content of all the various activities in each frame as well as the time division model in each.
As our life expectancy is limited, we are interested in the optimal utilization of our time. Therefore, all of our activities are time-based. Any activity such as eating, drinking, or shopping at the supermarket, is expected to be of certain duration. An activity taking more time or less time is seen as unusual. Thus, there is a reasonable time range for each activity we perform. I term this time range the “time range model”. The duration of any activity under or above the time range model will be perceived as a deviation and therefore unusual.
As we are well aware, the unusual is the basic condition for the creation of a humorous situation (although not every unusual situation is necessarily perceived as humorous).
In this article, I will argue that the time limitation theory does not contradict the prevalent theories within the study of humor; rather, it constitutes the infrastructure for these theories.
Keywords: Life expectancy, Time, Humor theory, Comedy, Laughter