Yesterday morning on my drive to the tennis courts, I was behind an SUV that had a rather cautious driver (slow as a slug). For example, at one point we crossed a pair of railroad tracks and the driver slowed so much, I thought to myself, they must have a high-stakes Jenga game going on in the rear of their vehicle.
I often entertain humorous thoughts as I go about my daily activities. Those who know me, know I enjoy puns, and humorous stories or jokes. So this post is going to be about humor and laughter.
For the past 15+ years, as each New Year’s Eve approached, I searched for a new comedian whose show, I, and anyone who was home with me, would watch as we ended the year. On both my home and office desks, I have a different calendar with daily funnies I enjoy reading to start my day. I subscribe to YouTube’s Dry Bar Comedy channel to keep an eye out for new comic talent. In short, I frequently enjoy a good laugh.
What do we laugh about? Judging by the various types of comedy (blue, shock, dark, improv, observational, sitcom etc.), it seems a plethora of things can trigger the laughs. Most comedy types use words, but sometimes gestures convey a humorous message too. Clearly, comedy is very diverse, as are the comedians and their audiences.
So, why do you laugh? I really would like to hear your answers, but since I have yet to publish this post (well it is published now you say 🙂 ), I will talk about why I laugh.
As a wise person once said, there is a time for everything. There is a time to laugh, and, there are times not to laugh. My tendency is more towards finding humor in most situations. That said, I would not find the pain and suffering of others laughable, especially if they are still suffering. As time passes, we can sometimes find humor in a painful event that now remains only a memory (flying through the air and landing in a hedge after crashing my bicycle into the curb as a child).
My favorite types of comedy are observational, one-liners, and wit/word play. I appreciate a comedian (let me say IMHO we all can be comedians) who has closely watched what is going on around them and can turn it into a humorous retelling from an unexpected perspective. In a similar manner, wit/word play takes the customary use of a word or idea, and recasts it in a way that puts it in a very different, humorous, light.
Earlier I mentioned comedy without words. I cannot recall the last time I watched something funny that was expressed in this way, but I would point to slapstick movies e.g. Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges (from way back in my day 🙂 ), and more recently, Dumb and Dumber (first one), as those containing such humor, and that I found funny.
I have sometimes thought about my propensity to humor. On occasion it was an attempt to win the approval, or to avoid the rejection of others (assuming they found my humor funny). It can be a cover/mask for pain or discomfort, but this has been a rare reason in my case. As of this post, I would say it comes more from my contentment and satisfaction with life.
I do realize times and their attendant circumstances change. There are times to laugh, and there are times to mourn. However, to sustain a sense of joy throughout all of life (might tackle the difference between joy and humor/comedy in another post), it seems to me that there would need to be a conclusion to all our life’s stories that resembles the endings of comedies as defined by the literary genre.
Here is one such definition: “Comedy is a literary genre and a type of dramatic work that is amusing and satirical in its tone, mostly having a cheerful ending. The motif of this dramatic work is triumph over unpleasant circumstance by creating comic effects, resulting in a happy or successful conclusion.” [emphasis mine] (source here).
It would be naive of me to suggest that everyone’s life story ends as a comedy. I’m sure we can all think of many whose lives ended in tragedy. Is it possible for a tragedy to become a comedy? By continuing the story until it ends as a comedy? Is that possible?
*Reminder: Please do share your comments on why you laugh. I would love to hear them.