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A handful of my friends have an odd trait where they say something and immediately laugh after it in an attempt to judge its success. The topic is usually a rant along the lines of, "These people have no idea what they are talking about." An example:

My teacher said to make my art darker but when I made it dark he complained that it was too dark. *Laugher*

The emotion is very much a nervous laughter but I want to describe it so that it is separate from the nervous laughter present when someone makes a mistake or is embarrassed. This is more of an "am I right?" action looking for positive feedback to confirm their suspicions. In the example above, my friend was frustrated by the perceived conflicting direction given by the teacher and was looking for support. The laughter is a constant participant in this behavior.

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3 Answers 3

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"My teacher said to make my art darker- but when I made it dark... he complained that it was too dark" he said, before observing our reactions with a gauging, anxious laugh.

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Gauging is spot on, thanks! –  MrHen Jun 22 '11 at 21:59
    
I had a feeling it was the word you were looking for; feel free to accept my answer my good man –  Edward Rose Jun 23 '11 at 0:51
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You are probably better off letting the context, dialogue and action reveal the type of laughter. A quick example:

"My teach said to make my art darker, but when I made it dark, he complained it was too dark." Jim laughed, glancing at the faces around him. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't, right?"

In fact, the example you gave already suggests incredulous laughter. This sort of approach will lead to much better writing.

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I like this approach. –  RolandiXor Jun 22 '11 at 12:41
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The first word I thought of was titter, which describes a nervous, self-conscious laugh. I associate it particularly with judgment, but something like sniggering might be closer to what you are looking for. Sniggering is more derisive than tittering, and I think the following laughter is aimed at the subject of the rant, to see if others will join in on the mockery.

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