Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What's Banter Anyway?

If you had to describe exactly what 'banter' was to an alien you'd have somewhat of a challenging task on your hands. In the Oxford English Dictionary it is defined as the "friendly and playful exchange of teasing remarks" which, from my experience anyway, has hit the nail on the head.

Coming from a family who enjoy passing around regular taunts I've had to learn not just to be able to take the affectionate jeering, but be able to instantaneously swoop in with a suitably jocular comeback. However, this set me up well for the introduction to my boyfriend's family whom, from our first acquaintance have slowly but surely turned up the banter-o-meter to full.

For me, banter is a way of showing affection. The best banter, after all, is the sort that is tailored to the persons deepest darkest downfalls, and to do that you have to know the (dare I say) 'victim' extremely well.

However it seems other's don't agree. When I was researching previous comments on the use of banter around the web I stumbled across a Tom Chivers' post on the subject on the online blog for The Telegraph. <http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100141906/if-you-like-banter-you-are-an-idiot/ >

It is not what I was expecting to see, the headline reading: "If you like 'banter', you are an idiot". In his post he then goes on to describe the use of the banter as "the single worst thing in the history of the universe"... well I wouldn't quite go that far Tom.

"Banter is Soccer Am" he goes on to say, "it is not humor, banter is what people have when they lack a sense of humor."

Well Mr Chivers I have a question for you.

My boyfriend's dad has very recently had an accident which has left him in a bit of a state with several broken bones currently recovering in hospital (I'll spare you the gory details.) I can almost hear your sympathy, well no... he doesn't want it. When visiting this weekend, and my boyfriend will back me up on this, he said: "I want the banter! It's what is gonna get me through until I get better."

So, is this just because he has a lack of appreciation for a good old fashioned gag, or does it depend on your personal preference when it comes to humor?

From my experience banter requires the intelligent use of wit and knowledge combined into a slick and ingenious statement with the intention of mocking someone... all in the name of a joke. And! furthermore, a joke from my experience, can be described as something that causes amusement and or laughter, thus surely underpinning banter as one of the most successful forms of humor guaranteed to make you titter... so long as you know yourself well enough.

Maybe it is that Tom Chivers doesn't quite have the capacity to laugh at his own mistakes which, ultimately, is what banter is. And if you can't laugh at your mistakes, I ask you what is the point in making them in the first place?

Banter is a form of affection that, however harsh it may seem to an outsider, to me will forever remain a certain way to show your closeness, warmth and love towards someone, be it your friends, partner or family. It's not offensive, because something offensive is meant with malice. It's harmless, and if you can't take it, well it's generally because you're not astute or quick enough to conceive a response.

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