Let’s Start Laughing Again!

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Everybody loves to laugh. So why don’t we anymore?

This isn’t funny. It’s true.

If you want to know the reason why, go to almost any social media platform. For that matter, read any headline. Whether from the right or from the left, you’re vilified once you stray too close to the shoulder of an ever-narrowing path.

Time was you could walk smoothly in a sea of honest humor. You’d laugh. You’d cringe. You’d get that awkward feeling. But it was all good. You accepted this variety of hits and misses because you liked to laugh. And there were enough hits to keep you laughing which made the trade-off worthwhile.

It seems today people would rather get angry than laugh. They’d prefer to take the easy way out and complain instead of challenging their wits to devise the perfect tease.

And what happens to those increasingly fewer folks brave enough to challenge their wits? They are quickly sacrificed to the false idol of woke.

This is why we don’t laugh anymore. This is why today’s most prominent comedians refuse to perform at university venues.

Trying out your gigs on campuses has been a time-honored way to refine your jokes. Mind you, telling a joke isn’t simply telling a funny story. It’s a combination of descriptors, timing, and expression. In other words, it’s delivery.

What better place to test that than with college students? They were more forgiving, often prepped to want to laugh, and had a greater inclination for the kind of low-brow and sophomoric humor more sophisticated audiences would merely roll their eyes at.

And face it. When you begin testing out a gag, chances are you’re going to start out with the low-brow and sophomoric (for quick and easy superficial laughs) before you sculpt it into the fine art of deep reverberating humor.

You can get away with the cheap stuff with the college audience. They aren’t paying the big bucks for the tickets. Big arena attendees, on the other hand, pay top dollar for their tickets, and they expect top level performance. It therefore made sense for even accomplished comedians to test their new stuff with the student population first.

At least it used to. Today, that’s not the case. Colleges are now a toxic environment for those wishing to explore new horizons in humor. It’s been that way for some time now.

In a New York magazine interview published a few years ago, Comedian Chris Rock said campus audiences were too concerned about not offending anyone.

Think about that for a moment. At its most fundamental, humor offends. You laugh because someone did something funny. There’s another way to say this: You laugh because someone did something silly, something stupid, something that is generally recognized as idiotic.

If you’re that someone – or, in today’s world-view, if you identify with that someone – then the humor can easily offend you.

So you have a choice: Either blame yourself for doing something stupid, laugh at yourself, and try to do better next time… or… Blame the comedian for making fun of you.

Which one of these paths do you think far too many choose today?

The world needs more jokers and fewer blamers.

Not only is humor good for the soul of society, self-deprecating humor is good for every one of us.

Look, nobody’s perfect, so why pretend you are? We all make mistakes. When that happens, we can either get mad or laugh it off.

It’s healthier to laugh it off. You’re more likely to identify what caused the mistake to happen and therefore less likely to make the same mistake again.

If you get mad, your first mistake is only the beginning. Anger causes you to bulldoze your way through the mistake, increasing the chance you’ll make quite a few more. This, in turns, makes it harder to reverse those mistakes.

Do you want to beset yourself with irreversible mistakes?

If not, then laugh at yourself.

Many people find this simple cure hard to administer. Take heart, though, there’s an easy way to overcome this. Have someone make fun of you.

That may sound cruel, and it can be cruel when done in an excessive manner and pointed directly at you. (Nonetheless, this is the kind of medicine that may be required. Still, let’s not go there. Let’s keep this as pleasant as possible.)

Instead of the gag-meister making fun of your specific situation, it’ll be easier on you if the joke focuses on some other archetype.

This is where the nuance of humor requires experiment (hence, the cheap seats of the college audiences).

It’s best if the archetype is as universal as possible. The comedian does this for two reasons. First, it avoids the nasty accusations (and potential legal issues) that come when it appears you’re making fun of one individual person. Second, the broader the archetype, the more people in the audience who can relate to it.

If people can see a little bit of themselves in the archetype, they can experience that “I know the feeling” of “I’ve been there before.” It makes the humor more believable, more honest, and, therefore, more laughable.

And guess what? The audience, whether they know it or not, are laughing at themselves.

Perhaps, then, the next time they make a mistake, they’ll laugh at themselves rather than get angry.

And they’ll be better off for it.

And we as a society will be better off for it.

So, the next time you see someone making a joke, thank them, encourage them, and laugh alongside with them – even if the joke is on you! (Because you now have permission to make a joke on the jokester!)

Comments

  1. Claudia Chiaro says

    Isn’t it interesting that “sophomoric” and “sophisticated” come from the same root?

  2. Chris Carosa says

    Yes, they are related to the Greek “Sophos” (meaning “wisdom”), just like the word “philosopher.” Moreover, “sophomoric” (which combines with the Greek word “moros” meaning foolish) and “sophisticated” (which ultimately derives from “sophist” or “sophistry”), both have negative connotations – sophomoric meaning thinking that you’re wise when you’re not, sophisticated meaning putting on a (usually false) air of elevated being.

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