Why is millennial humor so weird?
I presume if you’re asking this question, you’re not a millennial. And while I’m presuming, I’ll take it a step further and presume you’re not in the younger, post-millennial generation. I take it, therefore, that you’re at least 40 years of age and that you’re asking this because you have a child that fits the bill of ‘millennial’, and you want to figure out why they’re so freaking weird.
Millennial humor is generally perceived to be a little bit dark. A little bit grimly sarcastic. A little bit moodily ironic. A little bit of a departure from the wholesome comedy of yesteryear, where suited standup comics told jokes about airline food to crowds of equally wholesome people who just wanted a two-hour break from their vanilla, workaday lives.
I personally don’t think millennial humor is intentionally all those things — dark, sarcastic, ironic, un-wholesome — but that manifestation is a result of the millennial generation scaling up what was really started in the ‘60s with the counterculture movement.
When it comes to art and comedy, the counterculture rise in the 60s — with practitioners like Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol — was the first real opportunity (in an otherwise wartorn 20th century) for a generation of young people to demand that the art they consume push the boundaries of normal.
The baby boomers, off the back of two preceding generations whose time to explore counterculture was a little curtailed with two world wars, was the first to really demand more reality and less ideality in their art. By the time the 1980s rolled around, after twenty strong years of cultural revolution, and with the advent of MTV and the commercialization of art that was raw, real, and the opposite of glossy, the railway tracks for weird millennial humor had been laid.
In my view, the answer to the question — why is millennial humor so weird? — stems simply from the generation’s desire to push the boundaries of the art they both consume and create. Inevitably this pushing of the boundaries can distort the art, including comedy, into weird and wonderful directions.
Which is why if you’re 40 year or older you’ll probably never get a joke told by a millennial.
This one: Why is millennial humor so weird?