Why we still need comedy

When talking critically about comedy and what makes it so important, it's almost mandatory that the absolutely weird nature of humor gets a mention.

How is it that some combination of words spoken with some attention to timing can reduce even the most straight-faced grump into a ball of tears and joyous hysterics? Or to put it simply: Why the hell is funny so funny?

Without getting too technical, if something is stressful to us and can be presented in a way that is remarkably more comfortable, it's funny.

I've read psychology texts that describe humor as originally being a way to come down from the anxiety of a stressful situation.

It is humor's intrinsic connection to stressful and difficult situations that makes it so essential in today's discourse.

Jokes allow us to humiliate the scary and unfair world we live in.

Without humor, going to watch a stand-up comedian would be one of the most incredibly stressful situations one could imagine. The most satisfying jokes are the ones that make us feel terrible for laughing.

Laughing in the face of tragedy is the only way to laugh at all.

Whether it be sophomoric humor about the things that gross us out or topical humor about the political system that makes us feel hopeless, jokes turn the monsters of our lives into something less frightening.

So much of our lives will be spent worrying over things that do not need to be worried about.

Most of our fears will never amount to anything and those that do aren't so bad that they simply can't be faced. Jokes allow us to see that.

Jokes give us the confidence to approach those issues which terrify us and make us happy to do so.

We need comedy in our lives so that we are not too paralyzed by terror to act.

We need to have comedians make us laugh about our troubles so that we can face the fact that those troubles really do exist. Jokes about the differences between people, whether they be race, religion or gender, make such differences a little more harmless.

Would we be able to feel comfortable abandoning our prejudices if we didn't learn to laugh at them? I don't think so.

We learn to love comedy for it's power to force us to always look on the bright side.

If Monty Python taught me anything, looking on the bright side of life is the most important thing a person can do: "For some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble. Give a whistle, and this'll help things turn out for the best."

Never ever forget to laugh.


Reach the columnist at jacob.evans@asu.edu or follow him at @JacobEvansSP


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