Another Benign Violation: Darwin Awards

Charles Darwin is best known for outlining the theory of evolution. The Darwin Awards showcase humans who have “self-selected” themselves out of the gene pool by doing something outrageously stupid.

2004: An Italian named Fabio had quit his job as an ostrich farmer to drive trucks, and in his spare time built his own spy gadgets. In a pub with friends, he produced his latest invention: a single-shot pistol cleverly concealed as a pen. To prove it was worked, he pointed it at his head and clicked the button. It did.

Yeah, the Darwin Awards are quite literally making fun of people that have tragically died. Why is their tragedy our comedy?

2014: Two men in Rotterdam, Netherlands, were killed in what seemed to be another drunken contest of machismo. One man lay down on the tracks, waiting for the train to pass overhead, while another simply kneeled down next to them with his head in the way of the train. Eyewitnesses told the Dutch media that they had been daring each other about how long they could wait until a train reached them.

According to the Benign Violation Theory, humor arises when something is wrong yet okay, threatening yet safe, or what we call a benign violation.


The Darwin Awards plays on a big violation. However, a death that removes someone with incredibly bad judgment from the gene pool can seem okay.