"What is it that differentiates human beings most revealingly? Some say it is their varying degrees of compassion; others say it is amounts of prudence; still others, people's differing appreciations of beauty, or whatever makes them angry. And there are other possibilities worth considering. But in truth nothing is so revealing as a person's sense of humor."
It is not very hard to notice the many differences between people. There are thousands of things that differentiate us. Appearance is of course the most obvious but in reality appearance does little to actually distinguish people outside of identifying them. Having blue eyes does not say anything about my attitude, my beliefs, my likes or dislikes. Of course there is no one, single character trait that will best identify a person. Humans are extremely complex. Most of us spend our entire lives trying to figure one another out. (This is especially true when attempting to figure out females.) Clues can be found anywhere. The books a person reads, the movies they watch and the games they play all reveal little bits of their character.
It is a fair comment though that the most revealing character trait a person has is their sense of humor. Few things are as distinguishable and noticeable as humor. Laughs echo throughout rooms and they are as unique as snowflakes. Jokes have been told and retold for centuries by men and women of all races. While it has often been said of someone that "they have no sense of humor," it is untrue. Senses of humor vary more often than the weather. What some people find hilarious, others find offensive. What some people think is stupid, others think it is amusing. This is why it is so revealing. What makes people laugh or smile can say a lot about their intelligence, their convictions and their social standing. Of course these are just a few of the facets of human life that a sense of humor can reveal.
People have differing degrees of wit. Certain television shows and movies are obviously made to cater to different audiences. There have always been certain jokes that "are over someone's head." A person's sense of humor can give real insight to their educational background and "intelligence." A lone high school drop-out in a group of archaeologists may feel to see the humor in many of their jokes. Chances are they may not laugh at the same shows or life situations. By no means am I saying that this is a cut and dry scenario though. The uneducated can very easily find the same things as funny as an MBA does. However humor seems to typify itself in social groups, and those with the same educational background and intelligence often share a similar sense of humor. From this one can make a quick judgment on another's educational background.
Racist jokes are extremely common in modern society. Almost everyone laughs at them. While it may not be always fair to say so there is often real racism behind the laughter. More than likely not full-blown, "KKK" racism but some sort of bigotry. If someone constantly uses minority groups as the target of their humor, chances are they are the host to some "politically incorrect" opinions.
Perhaps more so than intelligence, humor accurately portrays a person's social standing. The upper class probably doesn't laugh as much at Roseanne as the middle class does. That is assuming they even watch it all. The anecdotes people tell and laugh at, reflect their social standing very much. I, personally, probably would not even chuckle at a story that involved a stalled Rolls-Royce, two pounds of caviar and a bottle of 1951 Dom Perignon. For the same reasons, a person like Princess Diana may not think my little tale of putting laundry detergent in the dishwasher is all that funny. People mainly laugh at that which they can relate to. The entertainment industry does provide some exceptions to this theory but that is due mainly to writing and acting.
A person's sense of humor is the most revealing aspect though mainly because of its honesty. Laughing and chuckling and smiling are all natural " gut-reactions." Sometimes people try to stifle their laughter so as not to offend anyone and still others "fake-laugh" to get in on the joke. Both of these kinds of people are easily spotted though. Laughing is not just a noise that is emitted from a person. A person's eyes and body laugh as well as the throat. Someone biting their fist or lip is holding back laughter, someone whose eyes are not even smiling is faking it.
Humor is spontaneous and situational. Of course so is sympathy. Sympathy springs from sadness though and sadness is reflective completely through all walks of life. Most people can tend to agree on what makes them cry, but agreeing on what makes them laugh is another matter altogether. There are a great deal of things that distinguish human beings but it does make sense that a sense of humor would be the most identifiable. After all laughing is the most unique trait people possess.