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The French were slow to adopt the term humour; in French, humeur and humour are still two different words, the former referring to a person's mood or to the archaic concept of the four humours.

As with any art form, the acceptance of a particular style or incidence of humour depends on sociological factors and varies from person to person.

For example, young children may favour slapstick such as Punch and Judy puppet shows or the Tom and Jerry cartoons, whose physical nature makes it accessible to them.Eighteenth-century German author Georg Lichtenberg said that "the more you know humour, the more you become demanding in fineness." Western humour theory begins with Plato, who attributed to Socrates (as a semi-historical dialogue character) in the Philebus (p.49b) the view that the essence of the ridiculous is an ignorance in the weak, who are thus unable to retaliate when ridiculed.Throughout history, comedy has been used as a form of entertainment all over the world, whether in the courts of the Western kings or the villages of the Far East.Both a social etiquette and a certain intelligence can be displayed through forms of wit and sarcasm.

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