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Laughing Data

Data laughing

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical."
"We learn by doing."

Humor is the ability to see or hear something that is funny, comical, or amusing - a pleasant emotional response to absurdity, incongruity, or social awkwardness. Laughter is often the goal or result of humor.

In 2366, Q offered the special gift of laughter to Data, his "professor of the Humanities", following Q's brief time as a Human. (TNG: "Deja Q")

Data didn't understand what was funny when Jono unintentionally spilled a banana split in Wesley Crusher's face until Commander William T. Riker told him to check his databanks on "humor, subsection slapstick". Data then understood that the situation was a variation on the "Pie in the Face" gag. (TNG: "Suddenly Human")

Some species found the ability to understand humor difficult. Vulcans, due to their rigid adherence to the principles of logic and emotional suppression, did not normally use or understand humor. Saavik once noted that humor was "a difficult concept. It is not logical. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

However, Hikaru Sulu, having served with Spock, believed that Vulcans did have a sense of humor. Indeed, Vulcans were known to express laughter when their emotional suppression was removed. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise"; VOY: "Workforce"; ENT: "Kir'Shara") Tuvok, even with his suppression in place, was known to exhibit what could be described as dry humor.

When William T. Riker served on the IKS Pagh as part of the Officer Exchange Program, Klag expressed that Riker was not what he expected, as he had a sense of humor. Riker responded that he had thought the same thing about him, as his previous dealings with Klingons, including Lieutenant Worf, had never given him any reason to believe that Klingons could laugh. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")

Guinan described her uncle Terkim as the only member of her family who had a sense of humor. The family misfit, nobody else stayed around him long enough to realize this. (TNG: "Hollow Pursuits")

One form of humor is slapstick, which, according to Data's database, is "comedy stressing farce and horseplay", the "Pie in the Face" gag, for example. (TNG: "The Outrageous Okona", "Suddenly Human") The Three Stooges were well known for their physical, slapstick humor. (ENT: "Carbon Creek")

Due to his lack of emotions, Data generally did not understand humor on anything more than an intellectual level. This changed in 2371 when, he, with the help of his friend Geordi La Forge, installed an emotion chip created for him by his "father," Dr. Noonien Soong. With his new-found emotions, he was able to appreciate humor, declaring "Humor, I love it!", but due to his lack of control he became inordinately amused, even going into peals of laughter over a joke that had been told to him nearly seven years before. (Star Trek Generations)

Quark once claimed that there were those who said that Odo did not have a sense of a humor, though they shared a laugh at the expense of Doctor Julian Bashir and Chief Petty Officer Miles O'Brien after claiming the two were still a couple of centimeters shorter following their experience on the shrunken USS Rubicon due to a subspace compression anomaly. Prior to this, both Lieutenant Commander Worf and Ensign Nog stated that they did not see what was so humorous about being small. (DS9: "One Little Ship")

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