My theory is that humor is when there is a connection between the joke & punchline which is obvious to the person in retrospect, but not initially.
The essence of a joke, in Hurley, Dennett, and Adams’ view, is that the teller of the joke surreptitiously introduces a certain epistemic commitment, and then reveals it to have been mistaken. When we experience humor, we are led down a “garden path” of a mistaken assumption, introduced covertly, and then the mistaken assumption is revealed. A joke relies on a: 1. covertly introduced 2. epistemic commitment or assumption 3. that is revealed to be false
The French philosopher Henri Bergson had a theory about why we laugh about tripping and other such forms of awkwardness. He argued that when people are too trapped in the automaticity of their mechanical movements and when these are insufficient in dealing with the environment at hand, a comical situation presents itself. Bound by the habits of movement, people sometimes forget to adjust for new terrain or unexpected obstacles, or they get so accustomed to their standard environment, they expect the body to do all the work intuitively.
When one's predictions fail, it is much like Bergson's jolt, up and out of the automaticity of interpretation. And because action is required to correct the prediction error, a cognitive arousal takes place.
Calling seasteaders "right-wing extremists" is akin to calling a free-love commune of barterers a bunch of "left-wing extremists." Seasteaders aren't trying to push their ideologies on existing systems or people; they're trying to build their own minor utopian communities according to the personal principles of small government and minimal constraints on emigration. In seeking a tax haven, are they depriving the American social safety net of funding? Likely. But so are the many thousands of affluent Americans who emigrate to other countries every year because they disagree with American policies. No, The Baffler's vitriol is not over seasteaders' "exit" from the American economy. It's an anger and insecurity rooted in seasteaders' proposal of a genuine alternative vision for a utopian future, an alternative which competes with Marxist teleologies and therefore threatens leftism's assured belief that it alone owns the world of tomorrow.