I hit upon a key today during a very boring moment waiting in line for the restroom (why this moment? why not?). The KEY difference is how the storyteller perceives themselves. When most people tell a story where they laugh at the situation they are involved in, they usually laugh at themselves in a humble manner, like “Ha ha, so there I was, at the DMV, and getting all pissed off for silly reasons I am sure you could relate to. Hee.” Some fannish people laugh at the situation as a stark contrast to themselves, like “Ha ha, so there I was at the DMV, pissed off people people don’t know how important my needs are. I’m important! How ridiculous they don’t know that! Thuh...” The key difference, I feel, is how serious you are about yourself. So those that laugh at themselves seem more personable and sociably comfortable than those who laugh at others.
So in essence, they are not laughing at themselves, they are laughing at the others who did not take them seriously. Their humor comes from conflict they have with others who don’t understand them, not humor at how they didn’t relate with others. You also see this manifest when these people complain how stupid others are. This difference can really show in how some of these people are unable to cope with stress.
Maybe this was already common knowledge, but *I* sure feel better about this revelation.