Inside Gen X humor: The forgotten generation's wry comedy is quietly thriving online, and they don't care if you don't get the joke

  • The search term "generation x humor" has about 756 million views on TikTok.

  • Internet jokes and memes regularly reference their independent upbringings and dated technology.

  • Karen Morgan, a Gen X comedian, told Insider their humor "is keenly observational and nostalgic."

The internet has become a generational battleground as varying age ranges have made points of their distinct differences, such as their views on fashion and slang terms, and especially the things that make them laugh.

Gen Zers, who have called their predecessors out for their cringe and self-deprecating digs, have thoroughly dissected and judged millennial humor. In turn, some Gen Zers have admitted that the things the younger Gen Alpha finds funny baffle them, and Gen Zers started predicting how Gen Alpha might ridicule their humor in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Gen X, sometimes dubbed "the forgotten generation" because they're wedged between boomers and millennials, have largely been left to their own devices.

Still, many early adopters of the internet fell into this generation, and its humor continues to thrive in often under-discussed corners of the internet such as Facebook groups and YouTube Shorts, where they revel in the jokes their collective perspective inspires. Here's what Gen X humor looks like and why younger people may not be in on the joke.

Gen X humor is rooted in their upbringing, making it hard for younger generations to relate

The search term "generation x humor" has accumulated about 756 million views on TikTok and features videos from self-described Gen Xers who make light of their independent childhoods where they roamed unsupervised, highlight their resilience and sarcasm, and share memories of firm parenting methods.

Karen Morgan, a touring comedian who was born in 1965 — right at the beginning of the Gen X period that extends to 1980 — frequently pops up on TikTok as users share clips of her stand-up material, which has focused on the generation's worldview, from recollections of the candy they ate growing up to the now-outdated technology they used.

"Gen X comedy is keenly observational and nostalgic," Morgan told Insider in an email exchange. "The tone of our comedy can be sarcastic. But it's honest and direct. More importantly, it's self-effacing. Gen Xers suffer no fools, especially when we are talking about ourselves."

Though the subject matter can vary, Morgan said a common theme in Gen X humor is a "pride in how and when we grew up" because her generation was left to their own accord at early ages, with "very little supervision and coddling" from their parents, which may seem alien and unfunny to younger people.

"I've had comments from millennials and Gen Zers who say our experience was abusive," Morgan said. "I disagree. I wholeheartedly believe we were lucky to grow up when we did. Our feral childhoods made us strong, independent people with a good sense of humor."

Gen Xers look for comedy where it's easy to find and share online

In April 2022, the market-research and consulting firm Ipsos published its findings after it analyzed what different generations found funny. Ipsos reported that Gen X, in particular, enjoyed nonpolitical and straightforward humor, and tended to use YouTube Shorts as their go-to platform when connecting with humor through social media.

Kelsey Chessey, the senior director of Ipsos Online Communities who coauthored the report, told Insider the study was comprised of almost 1,000 people, 249 of whom were Gen Xers. The Gen Xers in the study who used YouTube did so because of its direct accessibility.

"What we sort of saw from their open-ended responses was that they felt like, on social media, it's a lot of the sameness, or maybe not a lot of things that resonate specifically with them," Chessey told Insider, adding that YouTube Shorts allowed them to "go find the things that they knew were going to be super relevant to them."

Gen X tended to like clips of observational comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Robin Williams, which are easy to find on YouTube, and used Facebook to disperse the things that made them laugh, Chessey said, because it's a convenient place to share jokes with like-minded people.

The Facebook group Righteous Memes from Generation X has over 98,600 members and features throwback references to the things users got up to in their youth, while the group GenX Only has over 230,000 members who enjoy similar posts.

"We like to share memes and Reels with our peers who get why it's funny," Morgan said. "We don't care if anyone else gets it. It's for us to enjoy."

Read the original article on Insider