Humour is a very personal subject and I fully expect people to have different opinions. I tried to do a "Sheldon" (for those who don't know, the character from "The Big Bang Theory") by defining what's funny and what's not. I came across something that at first seemed sensible: laugh at things people can change and not at what they can't. As I thought about this I realised different people can affect certain changes while others can't.

One of my favourite comedians - Mark Lowry is a contradiction in terms. For a start, he's an American Christian comedian - pretty much an oxymoron. (I've since discovered a second - Tim Hawkins - so he's not unique - just rare. Hawkins is even rarer - he's a home schooler.) I first heard him on the radio at a time when my life was falling apart. He had me laughing for the first time in six months. After a long talk about heart operations (I didn't foresee one in my future at that stage), he finished by saying a situation reminded him of his favourite Bible verse: This too shall pass. It was just what I needed - and the laughing had softened me for the restoration of hope - that most wonderful attribute without which we aren't be fully alive.

Mark made a deal with his singing leader - Bill Gaither. He'd make jokes about Bill and they'd know there was no ill intention there. They had a special understanding that allowed that.

I also thought about my all-time favourite comedy - Yes Minister. The writing in that is so well done - so carefully crafted. Every word is exactly the right word for the character and situation - it makes me laugh just thinking about it. And the quality of the writing was illustrated so well by the popularity of the explanation of England's attitude to the EC - expressed years before Brexit came about and resurrected when it did.

Then there's my all time favourite short piece of writing - "How to give a cat a pill". I have tried and failed to present this to people - I end up laughing so hard I cannot finish it.

Defining humour is impossible. I learned while recuperating from heart surgery that some people (not Kiwis as far as I know, although Maori humour and pakeha humour are different) have no sense of humour. It doesn't matter what the joke is, they just have no concept of humour. That's a bit hard to get to grips with. Nevertheless, it does put my enjoyment of humour in perspective.

I also learned while recuperating at home from the same surgery that it's possible to laugh too much. I read something that made me laugh so much I couldn't breathe properly. I eventually struggled to my feet to straighten my body - and next thing I knew I was picking myself off the floor. I wasn't out for long - just long enough to fall - but it showed comedy can indeed be serious.

We tend to live in a world where humour is over-rated. That's not to say it's not valuable - but when I watch local comedies (I try to be supportive even though it can be painful at times), it saddens me to see them resort primarily to bad language and sex "jokes" when they have nothing funny to say. Surely having something funny to say (not necessarily with words as the guy with tape on his face shows) is the starting point of humour.

So that's my take on humour. I make no apologies to Americans for spelling it "properly" - and I make no apology for including jokes here that are obviously North American. I will as time and motivation allow put more of my collection here.

I would like to apologise for times when lack of insight means I use humour that not all people appreciate. When talking with people about subjects we disagree on, unless I know the people involved, I tend to avoid humour as it is so capable of being misunderstood.

This particularly applies to internet discussions. With only words to communicate, the difficult job of communication is made more difficult. I try and use emoticons to make clear when my sense of humour is at work. Sadly some people use emoticons in confrontational ways. When I argue a point, I try never to give confusing signals. I don't mind arguing, although these days most people's concept of arguing is vastly different. But if it's not clear I'm arguing a point, I'm probably not.