Farts, Farting and the Appropriateness of Laughter

I’m going to save the terrifying events of yesterday for Miserable Monday. Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d talk about something a little more lighthearted: farts.

People seemed to think my mention of smelly farts as a reason for couples sleeping separately was a bit hilarious. Even as I type the word, I feel the internet quiver with 12-year-old laughter. I’m not sure what’s so funny about the whistling sound air makes as it passes out our butts, but people seem to get a kick out of it. Maybe I don’t always see the humor because my family is weird about farts.

I have plenty of memories of family members farting, but rarely do I recall them laughing at the event. There was one time, where my dad was going on about how something smell, that my mom got mad at him. It’s a perfectly normal bodily function and she didn’t care for the way he was making fun of her.

Since then, I have always thought it rude to laugh at farts. Why laugh at a person for something out of their control? Then I met the boyfriend, D. D has a lot of flatulence. In fact, I cannot overstate how often this man farts. In public and around new people, he’s good at holding it in, but five years changes a couple. He has no problem releasing his gases around me. To be honest, I don’t mind. They’re just farts. I fart, too, and I don’t expect him to think any less of me for that. His farts don’t even smell, so what do I care?

This photo, “funny-pictures-farting-kitten” is copyright (c) 2014 Paul Anderson and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

The funny thing is, D cares. He thinks farts are hilarious. Even though they rarely smell, you can always tell when he has passed gas. He gets this big goofy smile on his face and, if he can pull you aside, he’ll ask if you noticed.

I almost never notice because I make a point to breathe a little less when I see that smile appear. I know what that smile means.

Life gets all the more awkward when D interacts with my family. He knows that, to them, laughing at the sound of flatulence would come off as rude. Typically, if one of my parents or grandparents farts, they say excuse me and move on. No one around them will so much as twitch.

What is the social norm for reacting to farts? Does it depend on the people around us? I don’t recall ever telling D not to laugh at farts around my family, so I assume he figured it out watching the reaction of those around him. Does that mean it’s only okay to laugh at farts if other people are laughing at farts?

About a month ago, my grandmother was sitting in the living room with D and me. When she got up, there was an audible fart. She said excuse me and walked off. In his chair, D’s face twisted in a struggle to avoid laughing. The poor man. He gets so much enjoyment out of farts and can’t express his glee for them around my family.

I guess my family is just weird about farts. It’s not a problem for me. Perhaps I’m a product of my environment, but I do not like it when people laugh when I fart. In fact, I have become a pro at the silent fart. Most of the time, they don’t even smell. Maybe I’m lucky, or maybe I’m just young. I’ll have to wait a few years to see how age affects my farts.

When is it okay and not okay to laugh at a fart? If no one else is laughing, is it rude for you to laugh? Is your family funny about farts, too? What’s the funniest kind of fart?


59 thoughts on “Farts, Farting and the Appropriateness of Laughter”

  1. I love how you dedicated an entire post to farting, kudos. Everyone I know is of the ‘laugh at gas’ side of the spectrum. Generally, I think if one farts in front of another outside their own home, it is usually for that reaction, or at least some kind of reaction. Not many people I know fart in front of other people and when they do, it’s usually exaggerated. If it’s in our own home, that’s different. The people you live with know you’re human and have to do it; there isn’t a whole lot of being shy about it, and it loses its funny factor. We’re all about comfort here and won’t turn it into a laugh fest unless someone exaggerates the action. With friends, if anyone passes gas, it’s either for a laugh or a funny accident with embarrassed laughter. The only person we don’t laugh at is Grandma, cause, well, she can’t help it.

    1. My poor boyfriend, he can’t really help it either. I wouldn’t laugh or anything, but he always gets such a kick out it.

      And yes, I just dedicated a whole post to farting #FartingFriday ^_^

  2. I can’t tell you how much I love this post! Farts in my family are HILARIOUS! My boyfriend often tells me he hears a foghorn go off every morning I wake 😉 haha but as for WHEN it is appropriate to laugh, that is all depending on your company atm. I fight hard not to giggle in grocery stores, dept stores etc. Every time I toot I also fight laughing to not come out as a psycho laughing to herself in the corner! But when with family or friends, let the Gas Games begin 🙂

    1. Hahaha. See, I think post people are very laid back about it. And, when I say laid back, I mean they laugh with abandon. My family seems to be the only people who just refuse to laugh.

  3. LOL Yeah it’s normal, it’s a bodily function and we cannot control it sometimes.. I fart and burp.. ” I try not to in public ” and when your a couple or around your spouse for a long enough, there is not much you can hide from one another.. I use to fart and the smells doesn’t bother me ” I don’t know about her, she never told me ” but sometimes she use to fart, i couldn’t believe how such horrid smell comes from such a small person.. It’s a funny thing in general i guess, because most people repress it and hold it in.. and some other don’t. For me it’s funny when it’s really “un-expected or exaggerated ” or just can’t hold it in and you have to let it go but no one knows where it comes from.. Some find it funny and laugh at it, some don’t and think it’s disrespectful.. Personally i just don’t really care.. If it smells i wont stay quiet and look for the perpetrator..

    1. I really don’t know. In general, I don’t find farts fun. I do, however, find laughter funny. If someone is laughing, I will start laughing without having any idea what we’re laughing at. That’s why I find it so easy not to laugh at farts around my family. If no one else is laughing, then chances are I’m not either.

  4. I consider myself to be a pretty mature person who knows when the right and wrong times to laugh are, but I still find farting hilarious. It’s one of the most awkward things our body does, without care, and something everyone has to deal with. Some people don’t know how to cope with farts – they’re embarrassed, ashamed, and don’t want anyone to notice them. I feel these people have been taught not to accept every part of themselves as okay. They were told farting is rude and wrong and that they should never do it around others. But that’s almost like saying breastfeeding in public is wrong, or like scraping the morning crust out of your eyes in front of others is wrong. Every single person on earth farts. It’s a natural body process and it’s okay. I’ve known people like this, who are afraid to fart in public, and to respect the way they were brought up, I don’t laugh at them when they fart. But at everyone else, I laugh – even at myself. It’s not like I laugh at farts because I want to embarrass someone else. It’s my way of letting them know that I go through the same thing, there’s no reason to hide it (exceptions include at a business meeting or while in court). It’s okay to laugh at yourself, especially when air comes out of your butt.

    1. I can’t help but feel embarrassed with I fart. Maybe that’s because of the way my family handled them. Not laughing at farts was their way of pretending they never happened.

  5. Funny how your own farts smells OK but everyone else’s stinks. We grew up laughing at farts, my dad called them stepping on a carpet frog. My brother’s smell so bad that he himself vomited at the smell. Yeah, farts are hilarious.

    1. I know my farts can’t smell that bad. I fart just as much as any other person and most of the time no one notices. And believe me, the boyfriend happily points it out when he does notice.

  6. What a great post. Being rather “old school” my parents brought me up believing that farts were bad and not something necessarily to laugh at but rather to judge harshly. Unfortunately these lessons carried through most of my adult life — until I had children. Kids do it with reckless abandon, carefree, and careless. They found it hilarious but very often didn’t even notice. When they do it, there’s an innocense in it. When my husband does it though, that’s a different story. He does it solely to get a rise out of me. There in lies the difference between acceptable farts and unacceptable. Why someone would do it purposely I don’t get. Because he knew my families position on the subject he used it against me. Thankfully, the kids have mellowed me on the subject and now that they are grown, farts are regarded less taboo. It’s a much nicer world when there is one less thing to be uptight about. Thanks for the post — it puts things in perspective.

    1. Well, I’m happy I’m not the only one who grew up thinking of farts as taboo. My boyfriend rarely does it on purpose, but his goofy smile can make it seem like he does. It’s hilarious to see him around my parents. He tries so hard not to laugh when someone farts. I’m used to ignoring them, but he struggles not to crack up.

  7. My claim is that it’s the sound and its surprise and unending variety. It reminds me of words. It’s said that the consonant “plosives” (p b d t k g) are the funniest. In Neil Simon’s play The Sunshine Boys, a character says, “Words with a k in it are funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny. All with a k. Ls are not funny. Ms are not funny.” Surely the sound of relief is one of the funniest sounds ever. My personal favorite: the inquisitive fart (tone rises at the end, to a squeak).

    1. Hahahaha. The inquisitive far, huh? That makes me smile. Every time I hear someone fart from now on, I’m going to think the words “the sound of relief”

  8. I’d say my family tends to laugh at farts. Personally, I can take or leave the laughter and am okay with casually apologizing for my fart and leaving it at that. Your blog post reminds me of a huge research project I did on social conventions my freshman year of college. I talked about a lot of expected social behaviors but did not mention this! haha 🙂

    1. Well, now you need to do another project about farts. I think most people think farts are funny. It’s just my family who are weird about it.

  9. I suspect the humor comes from a sense of embarrassment. It’s odd that social discomfort can manifestoes laughter.

    If anyone has a lot of problem with this, try taking gluten out of your diet for about three weeks and see if you get better. Gluten harms the small intestine, making digestion difficult — and flatulence frequent.

    1. Interesting. I didn’t know that about gluten. Makes me wonder how much my boyfriend must ingest on a daily basis.

      Also, I think the embarrassment factor is why I don’t like my farts to be acknowledged or laughed at. I’m getting better about being light hearted about it, though.

      1. I thought I was the only one, TK. My case is definitely worse than yours and has no doubt turned into psychological. Therefore, if I attend a meeting and mistakenly doze off, I fart. When it happens, it sort of opens way for reoccurrences. It’s humiliating and affecting me so badly.

  10. There is a designated fart corner in my house because I live with my BF and his younger brother. Their farts smell really bad and having them run to the corner when they need to fart was one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made 🙂 We do laugh at farts with his family as well at home but not really when we’re out with friends. My favorite fart memory is from when I was 7 and my dad farted. There was a fly behind him and it fell to the floor dead. Have a good Friday TK!!!!!

    1. Aww, I think I feel worse for your dad. No one wants to smell that bad. Lucky for me, most people who fart in my life don’t have farts that smell too bad…. most of the time.

      1. Also my farts don’t smell bad! They are only louds! This is better for the people who are around me, but it’s worse for me cause anyone knows that I’ve farted and they often laughs and I die from embarrassment! 😦

        1. Hi John. I have the same issue – it doesn’t smell, but happens repeatedly especially around people whom I wouldn’t want to fart around.

          1. I’m sorry you’ve my same issue!! 😦 However I think that at least our farts don’t bother to others, cause they don’t stink…so if some people give us a dirty look after we do a fart also if we excuse ourselves after that, they’re bad!! So also if we’re embarrassed, they’re stupid cause it’s impossible that they’ve never farted in public!! And then if a person suffer from bloating like us, what can he do??! Fortunately not everyone is so…and for example, if a girl don’t understand my problem, I think that she don’t love me!!

            1. you’re absolutely right, John. I have on several occasions been rejected by girls who seemed to be genuinely interested in me until the human part of me picked me out. Well, I think of such girls as loosers who obviously don’t know what they want in a man. every human being farts – loudly or silently. So I don’t see why they should make a big deal of it as though they themselves don’t fart. I think it’s a dumb thing for people to have such mentality. Seriously, a lot of times, such women lose a lifetime opportunity of having a man that would treat them so nicely. A girl once rejected me and then wanted to be with me again after obviously rejecting me because she didn’t want others to think so lowly of her. Well, I gave her the boot for her shallow mentality. In all, we all fart. Therefore, no one should be so cruel and childish because someone farted. It’s ridiculous!

    1. I always feel like my family is the only one who doesn’t laugh at farts. I agree, though. In public, when you’re not around friends, it’s probably not respectful to laugh.

      1. Agree, 100 percent. We always laugh at ourselves at home. But in public with people you don’t know, you never want to hurt their feelings. Of course, if one of us farts when we’re out and about in public and our son is with us, let it be known that he will announce it for all the world to hear and there will be no question as to the culprit … lol. Go ahead, ask me how I know this. 😉

  11. bwahahahahahaha!!!
    I’m afraid I’m a bit like D. I laugh, a lot. I tend to not fart in front of people if I can help it.
    I had a partner once who broke the farting in front of each other code by bending over to pick up something and letting one out. I fell over laughing. She was mortified, I had tears. I think it was more that she was mortified than anything else that had me in hysterics.
    I don’t see the big deal to tell you quite honestly. Farting happens like burping, you can’t control either sometimes.

    1. You certainly can’t always control it. I think that’s one of the reasons why I rarely laugh. it’s just a normal bodily function. I hate farting in front of people though. It’s just so embarrassing.

  12. Farting brings out the child in alot of people. My family used to leave the room to fart, so as a child a public fart was kind of rebellious and therefore funny. And this has never left me. 😀

    1. The idea of farting as a form of rebellion is hilarious to me. I just see think punk-looking kind trying to be all bad-ass farting. Hehehe.

  13. I don’t know what it is TK, but my kids, and my brother’s kids (could it be that all kids) think farting is absolutely hilarious. Heck, I think their funny too. However, I don’t think they’re funny when I’m in a store, or some place, and all-of-a-sudden I smell this rotten, rancid fart. At times like this I think, “How rude! or How disgusting!” But then again, I’m not innocent. I’ve done it too.

    1. There’s definitely a difference between farting in public and farting at home. Sometimes, I think people should retreat to the bathroom. But then, sometimes it can’t be helped.

  14. Generally I don’t laugh when someone farted cause I think that the person who farted is embarassed! But if someone does it in public it’s more difficult to me not laugh cause it’s a funny situation, but however I try to not laugh! But if the person who fart laugh to himself/herself, I also laugh with him/her! Instead when I fart, if I am embarassed, I don’t want that people laugh, and I am very ashamed to fart, unless I’m with people who know me well! But I suffer from bloating and sometimes it’s impossible to me not fart, obviously especially when I eat beans, chickpeas, Bruxelles sprouts, cauliflowers and dried fruit, all things that sometimes I eat the same, cause I love them so much! So I don’t fart in public but at home I fart so much, especially in bed…! I’ve never had a girlfriend and I hope to find a girl who is ok with farts…my farts however aren’t smell, but they are only noisy, just like your boyfriend, TK! 🙂 So will be easy to me to find a girl who is ok with my farts?? I was amazed, reading the answers, which many of you women are ok with farts! I’m very happy! 🙂 Oh, sorry if my English is maybe not perfect, I’m italian! 😉

    1. See! I do the same thing. The person is embarrassed and I think it would be rude to laugh. But I know so many people who just throw caution to the wind.

  15. You are very understanding! 🙂 However, if someone is understanding when I makes a fart, it isn’t a problem to me if then he/her giggle! After all loud farts are funny and as I said before my farts are loud….but when I makes a fart, if someone don’t giggle, but laughs out loud, then it means he/her isn’t understanding!

  16. Yes, but also by how a person thinks about somebody who farted! If he/her laughs out loud, it means he/her wants to make fun of those who farted and it’s impossibile that he/her maybe tell: “Don’t worry, it does not matter!”

  17. Farts are funny because they cannot be predicted. It somehow changes everything when someone is trying to do something and then you hear a noise that is irrelevant to whatever was happening.

    1. I suppose that is true. I think I’m learning to laugh at farts, but I still feel compelled to ignore them unless someone else starts laughing.

  18. I have questions to ask you on how to handle farting accidents that have happened repeatedly in public places where one deals with on daily basis. I just want to be sure that you are aware of my comment. So, do acknowledge please. Thanks.

    1. Define accident? I think farting is really just a natural reaction. I mean this in all seriousness, I think the best solution is to do you best to laugh it off. Farting is a natural, healthy part of how the human body works. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

        1. Yes, well my boyfriend farts all the time. Like…. all the time. And I’ve been with him for almost 6 years. I think I’ve gotten pretty used to the whole thing. ^_^

      1. Thank you so much for the reply. I had to ask because the people who heard it each time, knowing full well that it wasn’t intentional any of those times, till this day still look at me as though I was a disgusting person. They even poke unnecessary fun at me, which makes me wonder if I’m a low class kind of personall because of that human side of me.

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