Column: Go ahead and laugh: it will do you good | Opinion
I am an anachronism, a relic of times gone by. Newspapers are delivered to our home in Southern Pines, two weeklies and one biweekly (including The Pilot). I have read them all.
Where we lived, in addition to three weekly newspapers, we also had a daily. This newspaper included what I miss in Le Pilote and what I consider to be the most important part of the newspapers: the funny pages or the comic strips.
The funny pages are my favorite part of the diary, the place I first went when I read the daily. Even the word “funnies” is a fun word. And funny ones are funnier in color. The color comics are more like real life, which has a lot of humor in it if you have a funny bone and don’t have Funnies deficit disorder or FuD-D or “fuddy” like if you were an old “fuddy duddy”.
A “Ziggy” sign drawn by Tom Wilson that I cut out and saved is a testament to our times. In it, Ziggy is told by his pet parrot, as two birds laugh outside the window, “You wouldn’t understand,” the parrot says. “It’s a bird thing.”
HAHAHAHAHA! It’s a good one! A bird thing. This comic works so well because these days, it seems, we don’t get the joke, no matter who it is, bird or otherwise. There’s comedy almost everywhere we look, but too many of us are so blinded by offense that we fail to see or find it.
Go on. Can’t we relax? Why do we have to be so offended and indignant at every little thing? We take offense at what someone says or what someone does. We are insulted by this and that. Here and there. Everywhere. I don’t know why – social media plays a part I guess – but we even lose the ability to see the fun side of life, let alone laugh about it.
And laugh at ourselves? Oh no. We can’t do that. Why, it shows weakness. Self-mockery – one of the best humors – is outdated.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking to you. Please follow your flight attendants’ instructions to take over. We’re going to crash soon. Our humor tank is indicating dim light.
In addition to social media, part of our fuddy-duddiness may be due to our constant bombardment with television and internet news. The old adage “bad news sells” isn’t exactly old. Conflicts get a lot more coverage than positive news, always have…always will. Maybe that’s why everything and everyone is so solemn and gloomy.
Certainly there is sadness, injustice, disease, poverty and war, and we should be concerned about these serious issues. But laughter really is the best medicine. Why does everyone have to be so stern, so off-putting, so composed?
I’m not saying we should joke about everything. There are lines so tragic, so horrible, that we should think before crossing them, with humor. But if laughter really is the best medicine, maybe those lines should be crossed.
In a March 2013 Huffington Post blog, Rabbi Jason Miller wrote, “Comedians make jokes about 9/11, global natural disasters, the Chernobyl incident, plane crashes, shuttle tragedies space and horrific mass murder. A common refrain after such offbeat jokes is “Too soon?” But when is it really “too early” to tell a joke about a Holocaust-like catastrophe? »
Rabbi Miller, among others, criticized late comedian Joan Rivers’ Holocaust joke on the red carpet ahead of the Oscars. “Rivers, who is Jewish,” Miller wrote in her blog, “and whose late husband lost most of his family in the Holocaust, deadpan about German model Heidi Klum’s Oscars dress, ‘La Last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into ovens.’ »
Maybe Miller is right and the Holocaust is off-limits humor for most people and should be. But one day, perhaps, even the Holocaust can be a legitimate target for comedy as genocidal leader Genghis Khan is today. Khan is estimated to have murdered up to 40 million people, twice as many as the Nazis, but we can all laugh at the joke: “Khan’s mother says to him, ‘Genghis, stop being so negative. You are Gengis Kahn, not Gengis Kahnt’.
When we’re on our deathbed, will we revel in the fact that we’ve spent so much of our lives scowling, humorless, angry and offended, prune-faced with knots in the gut as if we were just to eat a bad oyster? I doubt. I think we will regret our lack of humor and wish we had those laughs that we missed but could have enjoyed when we had the chance.
Perhaps we should consider thinking more like cartoonist Bob Mankoff when he said, “Humor is the antidote to overthinking. Humor contains contradictions; it does not resolve them but revels in them. He says the right way to exist among the contradictions, paradoxes and absurdities of life is to overcome them through laughter.
Unlike relics like me, younger generations mostly get their news not from real paper newspapers, but online via social media or by scanning news from online “paper” versions. And they don’t read the funny pages. How could they? Try to find the comics in the online edition of any newspaper. Even if they exist online, scanning the first page will not find them.
We need to recover the funny pages. Perhaps we will all be less offended. And it could be a solution to our Funnies Deficit Disorder and weak humor flashing across our collective scoreboards. We’re all going to crash and die anyway. Why die without humor?
Q: What do you give a sick bird? A: Tweet.
Oh. I apologize. Hope I didn’t offend anyone with a lisp. But maybe they won’t get the joke. It’s a bird thing.
Barry Fetzer is a retired United States Navy aviator who lives in Southern Pines. He has previously written articles for The Havelock News.