Laughter is the goal of comedic performances, as well as any effort, political or otherwise, to heap derision and ridicule on someone. I like to think of these as 'leaf nodes,' i.e., there is no transition to another clearly determined memetic state from a state of laughter or crying. Is that even true? However, if somebody is laughing (or crying?), is our being drawn to start laughing as well an example of a memetic phenomenon? Do we get a memetic reward from starting laughing when others are already doing it, or even just starting up ourselves when we perceive that the time is ripe?
Are things like applauding or giving standing ovations similar?
If They Laugh, It's A Thing
Comedy is the subversion of expectations, and these are psycho-cultural in nature. This description is fundamentally macromemetic in nature. I have long advocated whether something is in the media, or whether it makes people laugh as a razor for determining whether a given meme is part of the supermemeplex, and also how it is connected to the system and how it is used.
I find that I cry upon hearing the US National Anthem, and indeed other national anthems as well (1). I also cry upon hearing any number of other songs. You can think of a song as a MIAO, but you can also think of it as a sequence of memes (words, notes), so for an individual, or a cohort, it's a sequence of memetic states that one jumps between, one after the other, to finally arrive at a state where one is weeping or feeling some other feeling.
Blueprints for Experiments
An interesting filter for which memes could be of interest to investigate, or which systems of memes, could be those that make people laugh. Why do the French (supposedly) laugh at Jerry Lewis movies? It probably says something about French culture. But what does that mean? It probably says something about some of the minute details of the structure of French culture. Do Americans laugh at Monty Python because of how it explores fundamental human existential absurdity using the lens of British upper-middle-class culture and history...or is it just the funny accents and the superficial silliness?
If something makes people laugh, that means they have internalized the MIAOs and memeplexes that allow them to resonate with the memes that make up the comedic content. Start with the laughter and 'work backwards.'
Further, rather than MRIs or such to identify the reward centers (3) of the brain, coming up with a set of memes that induce comedic responses, how these are set up, how subjects interviewed (2) follow paths that lead to a laughter response .
Summary and Conclusions
The hypothesis is that laughter (and tears) are a memetic resonance response. It follows that the telling of a joke, the setting up of a comedic situation and eliciting a laughter response from an audience (cohort), is an example of a successful memetic deployment by a memetic agent or memetic nexus.
It further follows that the memes deployed to set up the joke, the MIAOs, are all part of the memetic inventory of the cohort, hence we know them all and their structure and memetic state interaction matrices a priori. Starting from the laugh and working backwards to the set-up, we effectively get a memetic state transition sequence (memetic loop) 'for free' that we know leads to resonance. It's much harder to just 'dive into' the sea of the memetic inventory of a cohort and start cataloging, hoping to unearth some memetic loops in the process.
It's an easy path to getting a lot of meaningful pictures of some of the memetic transition matrices, memetic loops, and state transitions. It could also point to actual memetic nexuses, which may be harder to spot than one might think (4). An end-to-end memetic loop is nothing to sneeze at, even if it's not a 'complete' picture of the whole supermemeplex (5).
In short, if they laugh, it's a thing, and you can easily get a picture of a fairly complete set of memetic transitions within the system.
(1) Such as Kimigayo, though ironically I'm not too sure about La Marseillaise or God Save the Queen. Go figga. I'll have to double-check those.
(2) i.e., subjected to memetic hacking, i.e., an interview process to evince, without the subject's direct knowledge, which memes of which they are inurred. A more aggressive form of memetic hacking seeks to evince the immunomemes of the subject's idiomemeplex, and this is accomplished by challenging the subject's memeplex, resulting in deployments, or meme-deployments ("what if....") of immunomemes shielding their memetic system.
(3) Which is still a super-good idea, by the way -- it's just that comedy would probably be cheaper and easier to carry out, easier to get lots of data from.
(4) One could imagine various kingmakers or éminences grises that would be hard to find without a deep memetic analysis of some kind. It may not be that all memetic nexuses have their own talk show, best-selling book, or hold high office.
(5) As if there's much hope of getting that completely characterized!