Comedy as Philosophy, Laughter as Generosity, Political Correctness as Power

To laugh at yourself, to laugh at your shortcomings, to laugh not at an unfortunate event that has happened to you but despite the event’s unfortunateness: this is the surest sign of resilience, of a quality which is becoming increasingly rare and mistakenly labeled as immature.

If you make someone laugh, if you help a person to understand why some thing, or someone, is funny, you are being generous beyond measure. Through your daring to be witty, you are giving out the golden opportunity of spiritual relief. That is what jokes are: spiritual relief, if only for a moment…no, no, that’s wrong. Jokes, great jokes, make us laugh not only for a moment…not for a moment at all. We remember great jokes our entire lives. And we can laugh at great jokes no matter how many times we repeat them back to ourselves, to other people for the first time. If there is any renewable energy on the planet, it is the energy we extract from great comedy. The danger most threatening to man’s inner-climate is a world without comedy. Without comedy, our polar ice caps melt and our cities flood with monotony.

By studying comedy, appreciating the funny in all things, we strengthen our inner-resolve tenfold. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking that laughter in the face of a misfortune means that you are delusional about the misfortune’s dreadful significance. If you can find something funny even in something as terrible as your brother’s suicide, that does not mean you’re a psychopath without remorse. It means…that you are strong enough to carry the 600-ton weight of your grief. Laughter is the soul’s strongest muscle. Perhaps tears follow as a close second. Tears and laughter….Without tears and laughter, life is utterly intolerable, indigestible, unbearable. Tears and laughter. Tears and laughter. Souls unafraid of tears and laughter are what dictators fear the most.

Generosity is the act of giving something without expecting anything in return. A comedian who tells a joke just to get something in return (agreement, applause) is someone much more suited for a career in politics, not comedy. The only thing a true comedian wants in return for a joke is a laugh. Nothing but a laugh.

Some would argue that jokes are an escape from life; jokes distract us away from more serious matters. I strongly disagree. The effectiveness of a great joke lies in its truthfulness. We laugh at a great joke because – and we often don’t want to admit it – the comedian is right. Although a great comedian doesn’t need to be completely right to be funny. To illustrate this point, think about the amateur comedian. The audience will laughs at the amateur comedian if the amateur comedian is even slightly right.

Political Correctness as Power

Politically correct comedy is “correct” only in accordance with the dogma of the day. Politically correct comedy is “correct” by no other measure other than how socially acceptable and inoffensive The Powers That Be (who, exactly?) deem it.

The idea of “political correctness,” I think, comes from man’s desire for power. Consider: nobody decided for you that jokes from the 1700s were no longer funny. Instead what happened was that the year 1700 came and went more than 300 years ago, and with that tremendous changes in how people talk, what people laugh at, occurred. In other words, jokes from the 1700s stopped being funny naturally. But for the progressive minds (the minds behind all attacks on comedy described as incorrect), nature is way, way too slow. And so, to makeup for nature’s slowness, the progressive minds take measures into their own hands and decide for you and I which comedians and which jokes will cause the least psychological harm, will reopen the fewest intergenerational traumas, will not dare to invalidate any personal experiences and all that jazz.

Comedians tell the truth. We say that a proverb is true, not that a proverb is correct. The same distinction between truth and correctness can be noticed in comedy. The audience laughs because the audience knows a thing to be true, because they’re smart enough to know that it’s true without some Higher Power enforcing its trueness. On the other hand, the “correct” stuff in politically correct comedy is “correct” only in accordance with some new Manual on Things You Are Permitted to Laugh At. There is no Council of Writers of Proverbs deciding for you which proverbs are correct. Likewise, there should be no council of celebrities or academics or left-wing politicians deciding for you which jokes are acceptable to laugh at. You yourself can make the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable. You’re not stupid. No, seriously, you’re not stupid. You can make the distinction yourself.

The only saving grace politically correct comedy has is how incorrect it really is. It is possible to laugh at a politically correct joke by recognizing how sanitized it is. “What? *This* is comedy? Ohh, I see. They’re being correct because comedy isn’t supposed to be “correct” and that’s why it’s funny. Ok I get the joke now.”

What authoritarian states need worry most about politically incorrect comedians: they’re very good at making people uncomfortable; they’re very good at spurring people to revolt.

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