A comedian tells a joke requiring knowledge of Keynesian economics and quantum mechanics. Of course, most of his audience do not understand such complex jokes. Its sophisticated punchline evaporates in a spotlight of genial incomprehension, but fortunately a larger puddle of generic comedy still remains on the stage.
And so the audience laugh at the comedian's zany voices instead of his jokes. They applaud his facial tics and whoop at his melodramatic body language. The performance of humor is appreciated if not the actual humor itself. But, really, these people might just as well be watching Marcel Marceau.
I often think this is how the world works.