This excellent post by jiggery_pokery not only led me to 20 Questions to a Better Sense of Humor but to have a proper think about what makes me tick, rather than simply gacking the test, going 'Isn't that amusing?' and running.
I exist to be funny. It's my defining characteristic and just about the most important thing in my life. I would rather be described as 'funny' than 'nice', 'wise', 'beautiful', 'generous' or any other adjective apart from 'best-selling-novel-writing'. When I am laid in my grave, I hope the mourners at my funeral will be standing around talking about what a great sense of humour I had.
Humour is my primary offensive and defensive weapon. Getting laffs validates me. It makes me feel clever; it makes me feel loved and secure; it makes me feel I've brightened someone's day. If I can improvise an off-the-cuff witticism, I bounce in a pleased manner for hours afterwards. If I can't, I have a stock of shaggy dog stories, I have puns, I have innuendo, I have extremely mobile eyebrows. I work hard at it; like Verence the Fool in Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters, it amazes and distresses me when other people manage to make funny without having devoted a lifetime of study to the practice.
I get through horrible events by turning them into funny anecdotes. If a friend is troubled and I can't offer any sound advice or practical help, I go for making them laugh. I can think of only two occasions when I've been so depressed that my sense of humour actually deserted me (one was my first week at boarding-school), and it returned very quickly - though I was still thoroughly miserable, I could begin to extract amusement from my plight. I seldom wallow in self-pity, because I have too strong a sense of the ridiculous. If I simply must wallow, I exaggerate and go for full-on 'woe, woe, my life sucks completely and I shall surely kill myself'. If I've done that to you and you laughed, perhaps I wasn't exaggerating as much as you thought - but never mind, you gave me my laffs and that was what I needed from you.
Maybe this is all a form of escapism, of not properly facing up to life's problems. Certainly I'm your archetypal insecure person who would rather be laughed with than laughed at. But I like it that way. If being happy would make me less funny, I want no part of it.
In case I haven't indulged myself to gorging point already, I'd like to finish with a couple of lines from Noël Coward's song 'If Love Were All'. If I have a personal motto, then this is it: